A court in Egypt has sentenced to death seven people over links to the Islamic State terror group in northwest Egypt and over the February 2015 beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya.
The seven were accused of being members of an Islamic State cell in Marsa Matruh and of planning attacks after having received military training at jihadist camps in Libya and Syria, AFP quoted judicial officials as saying. Three of them were sentenced to death in absentia.
The newswire added that an unspecified number of those condemned were accused of having taken part in the beheadings.
The death sentence will now be reviewed by Egypt's mufti.
Thirteen others are on trial in the same case, and rulings for them are scheduled to be delivered on Nov. 25.
An affiliate of Islamic State, which also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL or Daesh, in North Sinai started an insurgency after the military's ouster in 2013 of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
IS released a video of the 2015 beheadings, titled "A Message Signed With Blood to the Nation of the Cross." Despite the horrific actions of the jihadists, the minority Coptic community in Egypt has been emboldened by the example the 21 men set in the video in their refusal to deny Christ.
As International Christian Concern reported at the two-year anniversary of the beheadings in February, relatives of the men, who were kidnapped in separate incidents in Libya throughout December 2014 and January 2015, have been honoring the memories of their loved ones.
One widow said at the time that her husband "kept the faith, and was martyred in the name of Christ. His faith was very strong. I'm proud of him. He has lifted our heads up and honored us and all the Christians."
The children of the 21 Christians have also said that they are "proud" of the courage their fathers showed the world by refusing to renounce their faith.
Numerous Coptic Christians cross over to Libya in search of work despite knowing that they will face severe persecution, including death.
The Sunday Times recently quoted a Coptic Christian as saying, "We know it is more likely we will die than live in Libya but we don't have a choice… More and more people are going to Libya because of the economic crisis here. You can't get work, you can't make money in Egypt. We are aware of the dangers, particularly as Christians."
In July, at least 22 Egyptian migrants were found dead in the Libyan wilderness. According to the Libyan Red Crescent, they died from heat and starvation.
A Libya intelligence report estimates that about 700 IS terrorists have re-grouped in the valleys and desert areas south of the city of Bani Walid, and another 3,000 terrorist fighters from different groups, including al-Qaeda, are operating in the country.