05/22/2017, 09.13
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Cairo, 48 jihadists on trial for attacks on Coptic churches

Defendants to appear before a military court. Of these, 31 are in prison under custody. The rest are still loose. Prosecutor says some of those detained include prominent members of the Islamic State in the country. The militants also responsible for the deaths of some policemen.

Cairo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Egyptian public prosecutor has sentenced 48 (presumed) militiamen or Islamic State sympathizers (SI) for ties with the three attacks on Coptic churches in recent months, where dozens of people died . Defendants must appear before the magistrates of a military tribunal. To date, 31 of these are imprisoned under a custodial order. The remaining ones are still on the run.

In total, since last December, at least 75 members of the religious minority (about 10% of the total population) have been killed by Islamic fundamentalists. These include the victims of the explosions at churches last month and the faithful who died in the context of the attack on the Coptic cathedral of St. Mark in Abassiya, Cairo, in December.

In the hours after the attacks, Daesh [Arabic acronym for the Islamic State] claimed responsability and threatened more violence against the minority in the country.

The escalation of violence had also made many fear the cancellation of Pope Francis's apostolic journey in Egypt, scheduled for late April. However, the pontiff wanted to respect the initial program by meeting with the president of the Republic al-Sisi, the great imam of al-Azhar Ahmad Al-Tayeb, and celebrated a mass in front of tens of thousands of faithful.

In a statement published  yesterday, Public Prosecutor Nabil Sadek claimed that some of the suspects were ring leaders within local IS cells. Recently, they had spawned some cells in Cairo and in the southern province of Qena, with the specific aim of striking the Coptic churches. The militants, the magistrate adds, would also be responsible for the deaths of eight police officers at a checkpoint in the Egyptian western desert in January.

The Islamic State has threatened new attacks against the Coptic Egyptians, one of the oldest Christian communities outside the Holy Land. In the country of the Pharaohs, one of the most populous Muslim nations in the world, the minority is subject to cyclical wave of attacks.

In response to confessional violence, President al-Sisi proclaimed the state of emergency for three months.

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