Monday, 30th March 2020

An Egyptian military court sentenced a Libyan man to death and 32 other defendants to life over a deadly 2017 attack in the Western Desert, the army spokesperson said on Sunday.

The incident took place in October 2017 when a deadly firefight broke out during a raid by Egyptian police on a remote militant hideout southwest of Cairo.

Authorities said at the time that 16 policemen were killed and that 15 militants were either killed or wounded.

Army spokesperson Tamer al-Rifai said in a statement on Sunday that the military criminal court ordered the "execution by hanging" of Libyan national Abdelreheem Mohamed al-Mesmary, the main defendant in the case. 

The court also ordered "life and rigorous imprisonment of 32 defendants and the acquittal of 20 others", the statement added.

Of the 32 sentenced to life terms, 10 were sentenced in absentia, the army added.

It was not immediately clear how many of the defendants were Egyptians or Libyans.

The defendants were accused of forming and joining a "terrorist" group in Libya, targeting security personnel, murder and carrying out hostile operations against vital facilities, according to the army. 

Militant attacks targeting security personnel increased after the 2013 military ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi following mass protests against his rule.

The attacks were largely centred on the turbulent northern Sinai region but have sporadically occurred on the mainland as well as in the Western Desert along the porous border with Libya.

In February 2018, Egypt launched a nationwide offensive against jihadists, mainly focused on North Sinai but also covering the Western Desert and other regions.


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