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Egypt executes seven over Islamist attacks that killed policemen

Rights groups say Cairo has stepped up execution campaign and now carries out third-most judicial killings globally

Illustrative: Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists gesture from the defendants cage as they receive sentences in a mass trial in Alexandria, Egypt, on May 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Heba Khamis)
Illustrative: Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists gesture from the defendants cage as they receive sentences in a mass trial in Alexandria, Egypt, on May 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Heba Khamis)

CAIRO — Egypt has executed seven people convicted of Islamist attacks in the past week, human rights activists said on Friday.

Three of those executed had been found guilty of a 2016 attack claimed by the Islamic State group that left eight policemen dead in Helwan, on Cairo’s southern outskirts, judicial and security sources told AFP.

Another four had been sentenced to death for attacks on police coordinated by the “Soldiers of Egypt,” a jihadist group that carried out attacks between 2014 and 2015, rights groups said.

Amnesty International says Egypt has handed down hundreds of death sentences, and that it carried out 107 in 2020 — the third highest in the world.

Friday’s report was “the first round of executions in the last six months,” a representative of Human Rights Watch said.

“Egypt is one of the top executioners in the world, and the number of executions is increasing yearly, mainly in cases of political violence.”

Following the military ouster of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi by marshal-turned-president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in 2013, a series of attacks were carried out in Egypt by jihadists and Islamists, killing dozens of officials and security forces.

Authorities launched a crackdown that first targeted Islamists before widening to curtail all public space for dissent.

“Sisi’s government has been instrumentalizing the judicial system to repress and punish opponents,” the HRW representative said, adding trials often “lack basic due process and fair trial guarantees.”

In January, the United States blocked 10 percent of its military aid to Egypt, citing concerns over the rights of government critics, civil society groups, journalists, and women.

Sisi launched his own “national strategy” for human rights in September, while accusing international rights groups of being unaware of the full spectrum of “challenges facing the country.”

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