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Egypt: 'deeply disturbing' propaganda video shows military killings

Still from the video © Egyptian Armed Forces

Celebratory footage of Egyptian military’s North Sinai operations shows ‘cold-blooded killings’, with one man shot at close range while sleeping in a tent

Call for Egypt’s Public Prosecutor to investigate

‘The harrowing scenes in this video serve as a chilling reminder that the Egyptian authorities hold international law in contempt’ - Philip Luther

**Viewer warning: the video contains shocking images, including of multiple dead bodies**

The Egyptian authorities must urgently investigate what appear to be extrajudicial executions by members of the military in North Sinai, said Amnesty International, following analysis of a military propaganda video. 

The video, released by the spokesperson of the Egyptian armed forces on 1 August, shows a soldier shooting a person at close range while the individual slept in a makeshift tent. Another clip shows an unarmed man pounded by bullets from above as he runs in the desert before falling to the ground. 

The video was released by the military as an update on its operations against armed groups in the region, with a voiceover celebrating the success of the operations and claiming that 89 militants had been killed. Its release follows two militant attacks that killed five soldiers and a civilian, with Wilayet Sinai, an armed group operating in North Sinai, claiming responsibility for the first of these attacks.

The tent shooting shows a soldier using an M4 Carbine with a PEQ Aiming Light and an Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight, both US-made, raising fresh questions about arms exports to Egypt by the USA and other nations. 

Amnesty has not been able to independently verify all the circumstances of the footage, including the date or location of the events shown. 

Egypt has imposed a strict media blackout on its operations in North Sinai and has prevented journalists, human rights organisations and independent observers from entering the region. Journalist Ismail al-Iskandarani has been detained since November 2015 and sentenced to ten years by a military court due to his coverage of the Sinai situation.

This is not the first time the Egyptian military have been accused of extrajudicial executions, though none of the previous cases have been independently investigated. Amnesty is calling for these latest incidents to be investigated by the civilian authorities, not military ones. International human rights law specifies that the criminal jurisdiction of military courts must be limited solely to trials of members of the security forces for breaches of military discipline, and must not include cases involving human rights violations or crimes of international law. 

Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research and Advocacy Director, said: 

“The deeply disturbing footage in this Egyptian military propaganda video, which celebrates the armed forces’ deliberate cold-blooded killings of two unarmed people clearly not posing a threat to life, offers a glimpse of the shocking crimes committed in the name of countering terrorism in Egypt.

“The harrowing scenes in this video serve as a chilling reminder that the Egyptian authorities hold international law in contempt.

“The international community including the USA and EU member states must urgently halt the transfer of arms or military equipment where there is a clear risk that these may be used to commit human rights violations.

“The Egyptian public prosecution must immediately launch effective, impartial and independent investigations into these apparent extrajudicial executions.”

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