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Middle East

Egypt charges 200 people with terrorism

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis members face mass trial for deadly attacks, but only 102 are in custody as 98 are on the run.

Last updated: 10 May 2014 22:19
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The Sinai-based armed group, founded after the July coup, has mostly targeted security forces [Al Jazeera]

Egypt's prosecutor general has charged 200 people with terrorism, accusing them of launching deadly attacks across the country, in the first mass trial of armed fighters since Mohammed Morsi's exit last year.

The accused are said to belong to Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, a Sinai-based group founded after the military-backed coup last July, according to a statement issued on Saturday by the prosecutor general. 

The prosecutor's statement refers to the group as "the most dangerous terrorist group,'' accusing the defendants of receiving military training in the Palestinian Gaza Strip under the patronage of Hamas.

It also says they travelled to Syria where they took part in fighting against government forces before returning to Egypt, AFP news agency reported.

The 200 are charged with carrying out dozens of attacks that have killed policemen and civilians. Of the defendants, 102 are in custody while 98 remain at large.

Last month the United States designated Ansar Beit al-Maqdis as a terrorist organisation, claiming it was responsible for attacking Israel, security services and tourists in Egypt.

The State Department said although the group shared some aspects of al-Qaeda ideology, it was not a formal affiliate and generally maintained a local focus. 

The group's name means "Supporters of Jerusalem".

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