48 referred to military court for involvement in Egypt's Palm Sunday deadly bombings

El-Sayed Gamal El-Din , Sunday 21 May 2017

File photo: A general view shows forensics collecting evidence at the site of a bomb blast which struck worshippers gathering to celebrate Palm Sunday at the Mar Girgis Coptic Church in the Nile Delta City of Tanta, 120 kilometres (75 miles) north of Cairo, on April 9, 2017 (AFP)

Egypt's general prosecution referred on Sunday 48 defendants to military court on charges of involvement in three recent deadly church bombings in Egypt, according to a statement by Prosecutor-General Nabil Sadek.

The accused are also charged with being members of terrorist cells, affiliation with the Islamic State group, and manufacturing weapons and explosives, among other charges, the statement reads.

The defendants are accused of being involved in the December 2016 suicide bombing on St Peter's Church in Cairo that killed 29 worshippers, as well as the two Palm Sunday suicide bombings in April 2017 that killed 46 people at two Coptic churches in Tanta and Alexandria.

The Palm Sunday bombings, which were claimed by the Islamic State militant group, were the deadliest attacks on Copts in the country's recent history.

One day following April attacks, the interior ministry said that police had killed seven members of a terrorist cell connected to the bombings in a shootout in Upper Egypt's Assiut governorate.

A three-month state of emergency was declared by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi on the day of the church attacks.

Copts make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population of 92 million.

Coptic churches have been targeted by Islamist radicals in recent years.

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