At least 155 people have been confirmed dead – with more than 100 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 believed the targets of the attack were security forces supporters, who had been attending the place of worship for Friday prayers, according to a security source as well as two eyewitnesses.
Eyewitnesses have reported how the attackers were male, arriving at the scene in four off-road vehicles. It is not yet known who was behind this attack.
— Anna Ahronheim (@AAhronheim) November 24, 2017
Witnesses spoke of how those who tried to run away from the initial bomb blast were gunned down by men who had been lying in wait for them. It has also been claimed the attackers ambushed the ambulances which were trying to take the wounded to hospital.
Reports suggest the attackers were dressed in military uniforms and waving black flags.
Shocking photographs of the aftermath showed rows of bodies inside the mosque, covered with blankets.
A mosque in Egypt is bombed.. 85 martyrs and more than 80 injured.. Could there be any clearer message that terrorism has no religion whatsoever?
It is heartbreaking ?
Our hearts are with you #Egypt
— فاطمة (@Fatima_arch) November 24, 2017
Security forces in Egypt are currently battling an Islamic State (ISIS) insurgency within the north Sinai region.
The insurgency became worse after 2013 following the military overthrowing of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.
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 to local hospitals in ambulances for treatment.
According to the BBC, President Abdul Fattah el-Sisi wil now meet with security officials for further discussion.
Egyptian health ministry spokesman Khalid Mujahid has now described the incident as being a ‘terrorist attack’.
Egypt has declared three official days of mourning for those killed in the attack.
— Fazeen (DEAN)? (@phaxyn) November 24, 2017
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.