CAIRO, Egypt — An Egyptian court Tuesday upheld the death sentences of 13 Islamic militants for attacks against security forces, a judicial official said.
The defendants were charged with forming a militant group, Ajnad Misr (Soldiers of Egypt), that has claimed responsibility for lethal attacks on security forces in and around the capital Cairo.
Egypt’s Cassation Court rejected an appeal against initial rulings passed by a Giza criminal tribunal in December 2017.
The accused were found guilty of “making and possessing explosive materials, bombs and firearms, and of receiving training outside the country.”
They were also convicted of “terrorist acts against police forces and public facilities from late 2013 to May 2015.”
Apart from the 13 death sentences, 17 defendants were handed life prison terms, and nine were sentenced to between five and 15 years in jail, while five were acquitted.
Ajnad Misr claimed several deadly attacks against security forces and bombings outside key buildings such as the supreme court and the cabinet offices.
In 2015, the group’s leader Hammam Mohamed Attiyah was shot dead in a Cairo gunfight with police.
Police said Attiyah belonged to Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, the Egyptian branch of the Islamic State group, before he broke away in 2013 to found Ajnad Misr.
Egypt has been battling an insurgency affiliated with IS in the restive North Sinai region since former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi was ousted in 2013.
The government in February 2018 launched a large-scale military operation against IS in the Sinai Peninsula of eastern Egypt.
Around 600 suspected militants and 40 soldiers have been killed so far, according to official figures.
Egypt has come under international criticism in recent years for handing down mass death sentences. Most such sentences have been tied up in the courts and never carried out.