Egyptian military vehicle in northern Sinai
Egyptian military vehicle in northern SinaiReuters

Egypt’s chief prosecutor on Monday referred 555 terror suspects to a military court on charges of joining a local affiliate of the Islamic State (ISIS) group, The Associated Press reported.

The suspects set up dozens of small jihadist cells and carried out a total of 63 attacks against army and police forces in the restive northern part of the Sinai Peninsula, prosecutor Nabil Sadek said in a statement quoted by the news agency.

The charges against them, he said, include killing and plotting to kill security personnel, attacking military checkpoints in Northern Sinai and sabotaging a gas pipeline between Egypt and Jordan.

Only 216 of the 555 suspects are in custody, the statement said.

Egypt has been fighting an insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula for several years. Most of the attacks in the region during this time period have been claimed by the Sinai Province, Egypt's ISIS affiliate.

Egypt has been under a state of emergency since April last year, after two suicide bombings at churches claimed by ISIS killed at least 45 people in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria.

Earlier this year, Egypt’s military launched Operation Sinai 2018, a major military operation against ISIS jihadists in Sinai.

Also Monday, reported AP, a criminal court in Cairo sentenced nine suspects to life in prison on terror-related charges.

The Giza Criminal Court sentenced another two defendants each to five years on the same charges, which include joining ISIS. The court also acquitted three suspects in the case. The verdicts can be appealed.