Egypt hands 18 life jail terms for joining IS: judicial source

Cairo: An Egyptian court Saturday sentenced 18 people to life in prison for joining the Islamic State (IS) group and plotting to bomb a church, a judicial source said.

The state security criminal court in Cairo heard that some of the defendants had undergone “militant training” in Libya and Syria.

The prosecution in their investigation accused the defendants of planning a “suicide bombing” in July 2017 at a church in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, the source said.

They were also convicted for plotting to bomb a liquor store the same year in the town of Damietta, 200 kilometres northeast of the capital.

IS claimed responsibility for twin church bombings on Palm Sunday in April 2017 that killed 45 people. One of the churches targeted was a Coptic cathedral in Alexandria.

Saturday’s sentence saw 30 defendants in total. Eight were given 15 years in prison and four others were handed 10-year jail sentences.

All were convicted for joining a “terrorist group”, planning terror acts as well as possession of explosives, firearms and ammunition, the source said.

Egypt has been locked for the past year in deadly battles with insurgents affiliated with IS in its eastern Sinai Peninsula.

Around 600 suspected militants and 40 soldiers have been killed in an army offensive launched in February 2018, according to official figures.