235 Confirmed Dead In Deadliest Terror Attack In Egypt’s History
At least 235 people have died in today’s al-Rawda mosque attack – making it the deadliest terrorist attack in modern Egyptian history.
Islamist militants have been active in the troubled north Sinai region for several years – the region has been under a state of emergency ever since 33 security personnel were killed back in 2014.
However, security forces were usually the target and this marks the first time worshippers, praying inside a mosque, have been attacked – it’s not yet been confirmed who was responsible.
A bomb was set off before a group opened gunfire on the worshippers, in the town of Bir al-Abed close to Arish city.
According to a security source – as well as two eyewitnesses – the targets of the attack were security forces supporters, who had been attending the place of worship for Friday prayers.
Witnesses spoke of how those attempting to run away from the initial bomb blast were gunned down by men in masks, who’d been lying in wait for them.
It’s also been claimed the militants ambushed the ambulances which were trying to transport the injured to hospital.
Some reports say the bomb had detonated in the mosque’s kindergarten area, with escape routes being deliberately blocked off by burning car wreckage, while others have suggested the militants hid themselves among the congregation while wearing suicide vests, before detonating the explosion.
Eyewitnesses reported the militants had arrived at the scene in four off-road vehicles.
Reports suggest the attackers had been dressed in military uniforms, and were waving black flags.
Egyptian security forces are currently battling an Islamic State (ISIS) insurgency within the north Sinai region, which intensified following the 2013 military overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi – who had been a leader in the Muslim Brotherhood.
Egyptian news reporter, Heba Farouk Mahfouz tweeted:
The bombed mosque in #Sinai is a Sufi mosque.
No group has claimed responsibility yet, but ISIS has targeted sufis multiple times in North Sinai.
State of Sinai ‘religious police’ beheaded a 98 year old popular Sufi Shiekh in Sinai last year.
Egyptian parliament have declared three official days of mourning for those killed in the attack.
According to the BBC, President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi will now meet with security officials for an emergency meeting where there will be further discussion as to the next steps.
Security has also been increased at Cairo’s international airport following the attack, with more forces on patrol as well as more searches taking place.
Parliamentarian Mustafa Bakri has described the attack as a ‘massacre’, tweeting, ‘the situation is catastrophic’.
The terrorists were masked and surrounded the mosque during prayer, and terrorists wearing belts were hidden among the worshippers.
These are not Muslims. These are killers.
UK ambassador in Egypt, John Casson, tweeted:
I am disgusted by the evil attack that killed & injured so many Egyptians in Sinai today.
On behalf of the UK my deep condolences to all involved.
These attacks on people praying in mosques & churches only strengthen our determination to stand together, & defeat terrorism & hate.
British Prime Minister Theresa May tweeted:
Appalled by the sickening attack on a mosque in North Sinai. Condolences with all those in #Egypt affected by this evil and cowardly act.
Our thoughts are with all those who have been affected.