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Tuesday, 16 October, 2001, 14:06 GMT 15:06 UK
Egypt orders swift trials for Islamists
Protests in Cairo at the attacks on Afghanistan
US-led attacks have angered many Egyptians
By David Bamford in Cairo

Reports from Egypt say President Hosni Mubarak has ordered that 170 suspected Islamic militants who have been held without trial must go before a military court immediately.

The suspects are accused of involvement in violent attacks against foreign tourists, police and Christian places of worship.

Attack on German tourist bus in Cairo in 1997
Tourists have been targeted by Islamic extremists in Egypt
Some have been held for several years.

Among the detainees are Islamists accused of carrying out a gun attack on a group of Greek tourists near the pyramids.

Others are accused of killing policemen or robbing banks in Middle and Upper Egypt as part of a violent campaign involving the group Jamaa Islamiyya.

The order comes three days after President Mubarak ordered 80 more people to go before a military court, where they have no right of appeal.

Security officials say that the 80, all of whom were arrested in recent weeks, belonged to a sleeper cell that was being set up in Egypt by al-Qaeda, the network loyal to Osama Bin Laden.

Support for campaign

In an interview with Israeli television on Monday, Mr Mubarak denied they were linked to al-Qaeda, but he did say, without further clarification, that they were supported from abroad.

Whatever the case, the Egyptian Government, which has signed up to US President George Bush's campaign against global terrorism, seems suddenly anxious to clear up all untried cases involving Islamist detainees.

See also:

04 Oct 01 | Middle East
Egypt's cautious backing for US
12 Oct 01 | UK Politics
Blair completes Middle East mission
15 Mar 01 | Middle East
Kidnapped tourists freed unharmed
17 Nov 98 | Middle East
Tourists return to Luxor
26 Mar 99 | Middle East
Egyptian radicals declare truce
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