Militants kill more than 230 at Sufi mosque in Egypt

Around 40 gunmen set up positions outside the mosque with jeeps and opened fire from different directions as people tried to escape
Militants killed more than 230 people at a mosque in North Sinai detonating a bomb and gunning down worshipers - Photo: File photo/REUTERS
24/11/2017
12:13
Reuters
Cairo
Ahmed Tolba & Patrick Markey
-A +A

On Friday, militants killed more than 230 people at a mosque in North Sinai detonating a bomb and gunning down worshipers in the deadliest such attack of Egypt’s modern history, state media and witnesses said.

No group immediately claimed responsibility, but since 2013 Egyptian security forces have battled a stubborn Islamic State affiliate in the mainly desert region, and militants have killed hundreds of police and soldiers.

Worshipers were finishing Friday prayers at the mosque when a bomb exploded, witnesses said. Around 40 gunmen set up positions outside the mosque with jeeps and opened fire from different directions as people tried to escape.

”Four groups of armed men attacked the worshipers inside the mosque after Friday noon prayers. Two groups were firing at ambulances to deter them, said Mohamed, a witness.

The public prosecutors’ office said in a statement 235 people had been killed and 109 more wounded.

Hours after the attack, Egypt’s military launched air strikes on targets in mountainous areas around Bir al-Abed, security sources and witnesses said.

Striking at a mosque would be a change in tactics for the Sinai militants, who have usually attacked troops and police and Christian churches.

Egypt’s government has declared three days of mourning after the attack on north Sinai mosque, state television said.

Arabiya news channel and some local sources said some of the worshipers were Sufis, whom groups such as Islamic State consider targets because they revere saints and shrines, which for Islamists is tantamount to idolatry.

The jihadists have also attacked local tribes and their militias for working with the army and police, branding them traitors.

The Sinai branch is one of Islamic State’s surviving branches following the collapse of its self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq after military defeats by U.S.-backed forces.

North Sinai, which stretches from the Suez Canal eastwards to the Gaza Strip and Israel, has long been a security headache for Egyptian security forces because of smuggling.

Mexico's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a press release reiterating its reputation to all forms and manifestations of terrorism.

“On behalf of the Mexican government, the Foreign Ministry strongly condemns the attack occurred today at the al-Rawdah mosque in the town of Bir al-Abd, located 40 km (25 miles) from the Sinai Peninsula, and extends its deepest sympathy to the victims, people and government of Egypt after this reprehensible act of violence,” said the statement.

On Twitter, Mexico's Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote in Spanish: “Mexico condemns the terrorist attack in Egypt.”

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