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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, January 02, 2018 2:40 pm

Egypt hangs 4 convicted militants, renews state of emergency

SAMY MAGDY | Associated Press

CAIRO – Egypt on Tuesday executed four alleged Islamic militants following their conviction by a military tribunal in the killing of three military academy students in a 2015 bomb attack.

Authorities also renewed a nationwide state of emergency first imposed after deadly bombings targeted two churches in April. A decree issued by Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, Egypt's general-turned-president, extended the state of emergency for three months.

Egypt has struggled to combat an Islamic State-led insurgency based in the northern Sinai Peninsula that has carried out attacks across the country, mainly targeting security forces and the country's Christian minority.

The 2015 attack took place outside a stadium in the Nile Delta city of Kafr el-Sheikh as the military cadets were waiting for a bus to take them to the academy.

Tuesday's executions by hanging at a prison in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria bring to 19 the number of convicted militants executed over the past week.

Authorities executed 15 militants on Dec. 26 after a military court convicted and sentenced them to death over a 2013 attack on a military checkpoint in the Sinai Peninsula that killed an officer and eight soldiers. Six militants were hanged in a separate terror case in 2015 after being convicted by a military tribunal.

Eleven Egyptian rights groups have condemned the latest executions, saying the legal process is flawed. They protested the expanded jurisdiction of military courts and the "political use" of capital punishment, calling for an end to the death penalty.

The groups include the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the Nadim Center Against Violence and Torture, and the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms.

The spate of executions follows an uptick in high-profile attacks and repeated vows by el-Sissi to use "brute force" to crush the insurgency.

On Friday, a gunman killed at least nine people when he attacked a Christian church in a Cairo suburb and a nearby Christian-owned shop. The attacker was arrested and has been charged with murder and illegal possession of a firearm.

On Dec. 19, militants fired a guided rocket that damaged a helicopter at the airport of el-Arish during a previously unannounced visit by the defense and interior ministers to the coastal city in northern Sinai.

IS claimed both attacks.

In the deadliest attack on civilians, 311 worshippers were killed inside a mosque in northern Sinai on Nov. 24. There was no claim of responsibility for the massacre, but witnesses said the gunmen carried the IS group's black banner.