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Egypt sentences notorious militant Hisham Ashmawy to death

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Cairo (AFP)

An Egyptian court Monday sentenced to death an ex-special forces officer turned Islamist militant and 36 other jihadists over several terror attacks, including an assassination bid on a former interior minister.

The Cairo criminal court condemned Hisham Ashmawy and 36 co-defendants to hang on 54 charges such as leading a terror group and targeting then-interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim in a 2013 suicide car bombing, a judicial source told AFP.

Ibrahim survived the bombing near his Cairo home but some 20 policemen and civilians were wounded.

The death sentences can be appealed.

Known locally as the "Ansar Beit al-Maqdis", after the militant outfit he led in the restive Sinai region, Ashmawy later broke with the group after it pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in November 2014.

He was already sentenced to death in November by a military court over his role in 14 attacks including the 2014 killing of 22 soldiers at a border post with Libya.

Other charges against him included forming an Al-Qaeda aligned militant group in Libya.

In October 2018, the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) captured Ashmawy in the eastern city of Derna and flew him back to Egypt last May.

Ashmawy -- dubbed Egypt's "most wanted man" in local media -- was an officer with Egypt's special forces but discharged in 2012 over extremist religious views.

Egypt has for years been fighting a hardened insurgency in North Sinai that escalated after the army's 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

In February 2018, the army and police launched a nationwide operation against militants focused on North Sinai.

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