The Cairo Court of Appeals decided on Sunday the commencement of the trial of 66 defendants for affiliation to the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group, according to state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA).
The defendants are accused of establishing a terrorist group in Upper Egypt cities affiliated to IS, named “Upper Egypt Province”.
The accusations also include: the prohibition of state institutions and public authorities from carrying out their duties, attacking personal freedom of citizens, robbery, possession of firearms and ammunition which may not be authorised to possess or make them, manufacturing explosives, and preparing to commit terrorist acts by monitoring public and vital installations, and targeting Christian citizens.
According to investigations, defendants were in contact with IS members to coordinate the establishment of an IS affiliated group in Upper Egypt.
Out of the 66 defendant in the case, only 43 are detained pending trial, while the rest are fugitives, according to MENA.
In May, IS claimed responsibility for an attack in Upper Egypt city Al-Minya, when gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Coptic citizens on their way from Beni Suef to Saint Samuel Monastery in El Adwa city, killing 28 citizens.
In 2015, the Cairo Criminal Court designated a group titled as “Sinai Province” as a terrorist group, after the group, previously known as Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis reportedly pledge alliance to IS.
Militant attacks intensified in Egypt following the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, a Muslim Brotherhood group affiliate.