Death penalty in Egypt for Muslim militants

ALEXANDRIA (Reuter) - An Egyptian military court, ringed by marksmen and armed police, yesterday sentenced to death eight Muslim militants convicted of plotting to overthrow the government. Thirty-one other militants were jailed, several for life.

The trials were the first large hearings under a tough anti-terrorism law passed in July by President Hosni Mubarak to try to counter a surge in militant violence in which 70 people, one a British tourist, were killed during the past year. The eight sentenced to death, seven in absentia, were among 26 members of the Jihad (Holy Struggle) group which was behind the assassination of the then-president, Anwar Sadat, at a military parade in 1981.

In Israel, meanwhile, security forces arrested some 450 members of Islamic groups opposed to Middle East peace talks in the biggest swoop in the occupied territories since the negotiations began.

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