May 26, 2015 / 6:19 PM / in 3 years

Egyptian court sentences eight militants to death for army attack - sources

CAIRO (Reuters) - An Egyptian court sentenced to death eight militants, including prominent Islamist militant Adel Habara, on charges related to the killing of seven soldiers in an attack in the Nile Delta in early 2014, security and judicial sources said on Tuesday.

Judicial sources said the charges also included association with a “terrorist” organization and weapons possession. The ruling, which can be appealed, followed the referral of the death sentence to the Grand Mufti, Egypt’s highest Sunni Muslim authority.

Habara had already been sentenced to death in December for an attack in August 2013 near the border with Israel that killed 25 policemen.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi faces a growing Islamist insurgency based in the Sinai Peninsula adjoining Israel and the Gaza Strip. Violence there intensified after Sisi, as army chief, engineered the overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Mursi in mid-2013.

Since then, Sisi has launched a crackdown on Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood. Thousands of Brotherhood supporters have been rounded up and hundreds have since been sentenced to death, including Mursi.

Liberal activists have also been suppressed, with many of the leading lights of a 2011 popular uprising facing trial for breaking a strict law curbing protests.

Sisi’s government does not differentiate between the radical Islamist groups based mainly in the Sinai and the Brotherhood, which maintains it is a peaceful organization and has denied any connection with recent anti-state violence.

Writing by Stephen Kalin; Editing by Janet Lawrence, Larry King

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