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Egypt confirms death sentences for killing policeman


Cairo (AFP) - An Egyptian court confirmed Saturday the death sentences of five men convicted of the January killing of a policeman guarding a church in Cairo.

Two others were sentenced to life imprisonment, which is equivalent to 25 years.

The authorities say about 500 police and troops have been killed by militants since the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

Militants have regularly targeted security forces, and several top police officers have been killed in shootings and bomb attacks in Cairo and some other cities since Morsi's ouster.

In addition to the policeman's killing, the seven men were also charged with forming a "terrorist cell" and plotting attacks against the security forces.

The death sentences were handed down in August. They were then forwarded to the grand mufti, who granted his approval, before being confirmed on Saturday.

After Morsi's ouster, mobs of his Islamist supporters attacked many churches and Christian properties in the country, mainly in the south, accusing the community of backing Morsi's overthrow.

Militant groups say their attacks against security forces are in retaliation for a brutal crackdown on Morsi supporters that has killed at least 1,400 people.

More than 15,000 of the former president's supporters have also been jailed.