An Egyptian court in Minya, south of Cairo, on March 24 sentenced to death 529 supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi, in a mass trial that lasted only two sessions. The 529 are accused in an attack on a police station that left a senior officer dead in protests last August after Morsi was deposed. All but 147 were tried in absentia; only 16 were acquitted. The verdicts are subject to appeal and may still be overturned. Amnesty International called it the largest issuance of simultaneous death sentences in recent years anywhere in the world. "This is injustice writ large and these death sentences must be quashed. Imposing death sentences of this magnitude in a single case makes Egypt surpass most other countries’ use of capital punishment in a year," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy Middle East and North Africa program director at Amnesty. (AI, AP, BBC News, March 24)
Egypt's military is denying that its chief of staff, Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, told Kuwaiti newspaper al-Siyasah that he will run for president in elections that are still yet to be scheduled. The newspaper quoted him as saying he could "not reject the demand" of the people that he should stand. Former strongman Hosni Mubarak meanwhile said in an interview with an independent Egyptian journalist that al-Sisi would be the next president. "The people want Sisi and the people's will shall prevail," journalist Fajer al-Saeed quoted Mubarak as telling her at the armed forces hospital where he is being held in Cairo.
At least 12 Egyptian soldiers were killed and dozens injured in a car bomb Nov. 20 near the Sinai city of El-Arish, security officials told Ma'an News Agency. A car laden with explosives hit two buses carrying around 100 Egyptian soldiers, the officials said. Egyptian security sources told Ma'an that a Hyundai Verna was parked on the right-hand side of the main road between Rafah and El-Arish, and had signaled that it had broken down. The car was then remotely detonated as four unarmored personnel carriers passed by. Egyptian officials said the militants who detonated the car bomb were being updated by others about the movement of the vehicles, which were loaded at a site in Rafah.
Deadly clashes erupted in Cairo Oct. 6 as pro-Morsi marches protesting the military converged on Tahrir Square, where thousands were celebrating the 40th anniversary of the 1973 war against Israel in a display of support for the army. In the ineivtable melee, police intervened with tear-gas and armored vehicles. Confrontations also ocurred in Giza, Minya and elsewhere outside the capital, with the death toll reaching 51 and some 500 detained. The National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, a coalition of Islamist forces supporting deposed president Mohamed Morsi, claimed that at least 11 protesters were killed in Cairo. The anti-Morsi movement Tamarod began gathering at Tahrir Square the previous evening, chanting pro-military slogans. Interim President Adly Mansour in a televised speech pledged to "defeat much-hated terrorism and blind violence with the rule of law that will protect the freedom of citizens." (Al Ahram, Al Arabiya, Oct. 6; Middle East Online, Oct. 6)
At least 25 Egyptian soldiers were killed by militants in an ambush on two buses in north Sinai on Aug. 19. The soldiers were reportedly executed by militants after being forced to leave the buses, a correspondent for Ma'an News Service said. Three other Egyptian servicemen were injured in the attack. The soldiers were part of a central security unit deployed along the Israel-Egypt border and around Rafah, officials said. It is the deadliest attack on Egypt's armed forces since militants killed 16 soldiers near the Gaza fence last August. On Aug. 15, militants in the Sinai killed seven soldiers in an attack on a checkpoint. Since the military coup that toppled president Mohamed Morsi after massive nationwide protests against his rule, militant groups have launched almost daily attacks on troops and police in Sinai.
As the death toll from the previous day's operation to clear Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) protest camps in Cairo was estimated as high as 600, Ikhwan supporters on Aug. 15 staged new marches in the capital, where a government building was set alight, as well as in Alexandria, where street clashes were reported. A governorate building was also torched in Giza, while seven soldiers were killed by unknown gunmen near El Arish in the Sinai peninsula. Ikhwan supporters also unleashed their rage on Coptic Christians, with several churches, homes, and Copt-owned businesses attacked throughout the country. Coptic rights group the Maspero Youth Union (MYU) estimated that as many as 36 churches were "completely" devastated by fire across nine governorates, including Minya, Sohag and Assiut. Egyptians on Twitter used #EgyChurch to crowd-source images and reports of attacks on churches. (Ahram Online, Ahram Online, Middle East Online, BBC News, Aug. 15; Al Jazeera, Aug. 12)
Egyptian militant group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis claimed Aug. 10 that an air-strike that killed four of its fighters in the Sinai peninsula the previous day was carried out by an Israeli drone. But Egypt's military denied there had been any Israeli strikes in Egyptian territory, and later said its own aircraft had carried out the attack. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, with a following among the Sinai's Bedouin tribes, accused the Egyptian military of co-ordinating the attack with Israel. "Our heroes became martyrs during their jihadi duties against the Jews in a rocket attack on occupied lands," the group said in a statement. "How can the Egyptian army allow the Zionist unmanned planes to cross into Egyptian territory?" A motorcade funeral for the fallen fighters made its way through through several border towns in Sinai—with dozens of militants in pick-up trucks flying their black flag in defiance of the army. Egypt's armed forces have killed 60 jihadist fighters in the Sinai in the month since Mohamed Morsi was ousted. (AFP, Al Jazeera, Aug. 10)
Some 40 supporters of Egypt's deposed president Mohamed Morsi were injured as soldiers opened fire on protesters outside a government office in El Arish, a town in the northern Sinai Peninsula July 6. (Euronews, July 6) That same day, a Coptic Christian priest, Mina Aboud Sharween, was shot dead while walking on a street in El Arish—apparently the first sectarian killing since the power transfer. Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood had criticized Pope Tawadros, spiritual leader of Egypt's 8 million Copts, for giving his blessing to the removal of the president and attending the announcement by army chief Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, suspending the constitution. (The Guardian, July 6)