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Trial of Sinai militants for killing of 25 police conscripts begins Wednesday

Thirty-five suspected militants, including Adel Habara, are accused of killing 25 police conscripts near Al-Arish in August 2013

Ahram Online, Wednesday 19 Feb 2014
Egyptian Army soldiers patrol in an armored vehicle backed by a helicopter gunship during a sweep through villages in Sheikh Zuweyid, northern Sinai (Photo: Reuters)
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The first trail of Sinai-based militants since the Egyptian army launched operations in the restive peninsula in July will begin on Wednesday.

The main defendant in the case, Adel Mohamed, commonly known as Adel Habara, was arrested in August and faces charges including the murder of 25 off-duty police conscripts.

Thirty-four other suspected militants face the same charges.

The 25 conscripts were reportedly stopped while returning to their barracks near Al-Arish city in North Sinai on 19 August. They were allegedly lined up and shot in one of the worst attacks on security forces since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

Habara confessed to the conscripts' murder one day after his arrest, security sources told state news agency MENA.

Habara has already been sentenced to death in absentia over bomb attacks in Taba in 2004 and Dahab in 2006, both tourist resorts in Sinai, which left 42 dead.

The Egyptian army and police have been engaged in a military offensive against militants in North Sinai, which borders the Gaza Strip and Israel, since Morsi's ouster.

Militants have staged repeated attacks on military and police targets in that time, killing dozens.

The trial follows a terrorist attack on a tourist bus in South Sinai on Sunday that killed four people. The attack, which was claimed by Sinai-based militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, was the first against tourists since Morsi's ouster.

The group has claimed a number of recent attacks in Cairo and the Nile Delta.

Last month, four explosions hit police targets in Greater Cairo, killing six and injuring at least 80.

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