- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 23, 2020

CAIRO (AP) - Three Egyptian police officers were killed when four men, convicted on terror-related charges and awaiting their death sentences, attempted on Wednesday to escape from a notorious Cairo prison, the Interior Ministry said.

The ministry, which oversees the country’s police and prisons, said in a brief statement that security forces killed the four convicts while they were trying to flee the heavily fortified Tora Prison complex on the southern outskirts of the Egyptian capital.

The statement did not elaborate how the convicts attempted to escape.

The four were sentenced to death in separate terror-related cases. Three of the convicted were tried and convicted in 2014 for the killing and attempted killing of several members of the Egyptian security forces. They were among over 20 defendants charged with carrying out militant attacks following the military’s 2013 overthrow of a freely elected but divisive Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The fourth man, allegedly a supporter of the Islamic State group, was convicted of stabbing to death a Coptic Christian doctor at his Cairo clinic in 2017. The defendant was sentenced to death in 2018.

Egypt has for years been struggling to contain an Islamic insurgency spearheaded by a local affiliate of the Islamic State group. The insurgency however gained strength since the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood from power in 2013.

Since then, Egyptian courts have held mass trials and sentenced hundreds of people to death. However, rights groups have repeatedly criticized such mass sentencings in Egypt and called on authorities to ensure fair trials.

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