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Egypt sets up national council to fight terrorism

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi gives at a press conference at the State House in Nairobi, Kenya on February 18, 2017 [ApaImages]
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi gives at a press conference at the State House in Nairobi, Kenya on February 18, 2017 [ApaImages]

Egypt established a national council for combating terrorism today, giving it broad authority to set policies aimed at "fighting extremism", a presidential decree stated.

Egypt has been battling a Daesh-led insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula that has killed hundreds of soldiers and police officers since 2013, though attacks have increasingly moved into the mainland in recent months.

After two deadly church bombings earlier this year claimed by Daesh that killed at least 44 people, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi declared a state of emergency and pledged to establish a national council that would root out extremism.

Read: Politician writes from Egypt's Scorpion Prison: 'I pity my jailer'

Rights activists have accused Al-Sisi of using his powers to quash freedoms and suppress opposition, adding that many people have been disappeared and subsequently killed in extrajudicial executions which have been made to look like security forces battling insurgents.

Today's decree established "The National Council to Confront Terrorism and Extremism aimed at mobilising institutional and societal resources in order to curtail the causes of terrorism and treat its effects."

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The council is chaired by Al-Sisi and includes the head of parliament, the prime minister, the head of Al-Azhar and several ministers.

It is tasked with formulating a "comprehensive national strategy" to combat terrorism and "proposing amendments to existing legislation," as well as creating job opportunities in areas with high levels of extremism and promoting moderate religious discourse, the decree stated.

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