At least 184 people have been confirmed dead – with 125 more wounded – after an attack at a mosque in the northern Sinai province of Egypt.
Suspected militants carried out the attack, setting off a bomb and opening gunfire at al-Rawda mosque, in the town of Bir al-Abed close to Arish city.
It is believe the target of the attack were security forces supporters, who had been attending the place of worship for Friday prayers. This is according to a security source as well as two eyewitnesses.
Eyewitnesses reported the militants were male, and had arrived at the scene in four off-road vehicles. It is not yet known who was behind this attack.
— Bloomberg (@business) November 24, 2017
Witnesses spoke of how those attempting to run away from the initial bomb blast were gunned down by men in masks, who had been lying in wait for them.
It has also been claimed the militants ambushed the ambulances which were trying to take the wounded to hospital.
Reports suggest the attackers had been dressed in military uniforms, and were waving black flags.
A local resident told Reuters:
They were shooting at people as they left the mosque.
They were shooting at the ambulances too.
The attack in Arish (North Sinai), Egypt is a heinous act. If you wanted to illustrate how "un-Islamic" something is, what better way could you find than the brutal murder of civilians at a mosque during jummah prayer? Reminder: Muslims are most likely to be victims of "terror."
— Dr. Craig Considine (@CraigCons) November 24, 2017
Some reports say the bomb had detonated in the mosque’s kindergarten area, with escape routes being deliberately blocked off by burning car wreckage.
Other reports have suggested the militants had hidden themselves among the congregation while wearing suicide vests.
Deeply saddened by the abhorrent attack on a mosque in North Sinai, #Egypt. My sincere condolences to all those affected by such a barbaric act.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) November 24, 2017
Security forces in Egypt are currently battling an Islamic State (ISIS) insurgency within the north Sinai region, which grew worse in 2013 following the military overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi – who had been a leader in the Muslim Brotherhood.
According to Egyptian news reporter, Heba Farouk Mahfouz:
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.
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.
— Heba Farouk Mahfouz (@HebaFarooq) November 24, 2017
Those injured during the attack have reportedly been taken by ambulance to local hospitals for treatment.
President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi will now meet with security officials for an emergency meeting where there will be further discussion.
Security has now been increased at Cairo’s international airport following the attack with more forces on patrol as well as more searches taking place.
— Times of lsIamabad (@TimesofIslambad) November 24, 2017
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.
Egyptian parliament has declared three official days of mourning for those killed in the attack.
My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the terrible attack on the mosque in Egypt. With all forms of condemnation, We urge everyone to stand strong and united against all forms of terrorism. Stay strong #Sinai #Egypt
— Santosh Jaiswal (@santosh_jaiswl) November 24, 2017
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.
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 Amb in Egypt (@FCOJohnCasson) November 24, 2017
This is a developing story and more information will be given once available.
Our thoughts are with the families of those who have died.
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.