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Egypt refers 48 Daesh suspects to military court over church bombings

Egyptian authorities have handed over to the military dozens of suspected militants to be tried in military courts over recent church bombings.

The Egyptian military judiciary on Sunday received 48 suspects for involvement in three deadly church bombings.

The suspects are believed to be members of the Daesh terrorist group, which is mostly active in Iraq and Syria.

Nabil Sadek, the Egyptian public prosecutor overseeing the case, said in a statement on Sunday that some of the suspects were Daesh ringleaders, who had formed terrorist cells in Cairo and the southern province of Qena to carry out the church attacks.

Churches belonging to Egypt’s minority Christian society have been under attack in recent months, with two deadly church bombings in Alexandria and Tanta taking more than 45 lives in April.

Christians pray during the Good Friday procession at the St. George church in the town of Mohalla in the north of Egypt, April 14, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

An earlier bombing at the Saint Peter and Saint Paul church in the heart of Cairo killed 29 people on December 11 last year.

Daesh claimed responsibility for all three of the attacks and threatened to carry out more attacks against Egypt’s Christians, who make up around 10 percent of the country’s population of about 90 million.

An Egyptian hangs an image of Christ specific to Holy Week use at Coptic Orthodox Churches outside a Christian church-paraphernalia shop displaying crucifixes and images of Jesus along with other Christian statuettes, in the capital, Cairo. (File photo by AFP)

Following last month’s church attacks, Egypt’s Interior Ministry issued regular statements announcing the arrest of suspected Daesh militants linked to the bombings.

Egypt has faced attacks by Daesh in the recent past. Previously, however, Daesh operations had been mostly limited to attacks on security forces in the sparsely-populated Sinai Peninsula. Now, Daesh has widened its sphere of violence to include the mainland, increasingly targeting Christian civilians in recent months.

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