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Published: Tuesday February 11, 2014 MYT 3:05:02 AM
Updated: Tuesday February 11, 2014 MYT 3:05:55 AM

Egypt denies upholding death sentences on militants

Egypt's President Mohamed Mursi speaks to supporters in front of the presidential palace in Cairo November 23, 2012. REUTERS/Egyptian Presidency/Handout

Egypt's President Mohamed Mursi speaks to supporters in front of the presidential palace in Cairo November 23, 2012. REUTERS/Egyptian Presidency/Handout

CAIRO (Reuters) - The Egyptian presidency on Monday denied a report that it had upheld the death penalties of 14 people convicted of attacking police in North Sinai in 2011.

The state news agency MENA had earlier reported that the presidency had upheld the sentences handed down to the men, all from the Tawheed wal Jihad ("Monotheism and Holy War") group.

They were sentenced in 2012 to hang for killing three police officers, an army officer and a civilian in attacks on a police station and a bank in the town of el-Arish in 2011.

MENA later quoted a presidential spokesman saying the report was not true.

Deposed president Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood did not sign the execution orders during his one year in office, which ended when the army deposed him after mass protests against his rule.

Mursi's overthrow has triggered a wave of attacks on the security forces in North Sinai and further west in the towns and cities of the Nile Valley and Delta. The state has declared that it is in a war on terrorism.

Militant groups flourished in North Sinai in 2011, expanding into a security vacuum left by the collapse of state authority after the downfall of president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

The army is waging a campaign there to reassert state authority. The military has said 16 hardline Islamists were killed in air strikes in North Sinai last Friday.

The presidency also denied upholding a death sentence on a militant convicted of a 2011 attack, and jail terms for eight others convicted of attacks in Cairo dating back to 2005.

(Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Michael Georgy and Kevin Liffey)

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