The death toll from the deadliest terror attack on Muslim worshippers at a mosque in Egypt's restive North Sinai region has risen to 305, the state prosecution said today.
The death toll from the deadliest terror attack on Muslim worshippers at a mosque in Egypt’s restive North Sinai region has risen to 305, the state prosecution said today. Among the deceased are 27 children, Egypt’s General Prosecutor Nabil Sadek said in a statement. Sadek said 128 people were injured in the attack, the deadliest terror attack in the country. Heavily-armed terrorists bombed al-Rowda mosque in Al- Arish city during the Friday prayers. The number of terrorists involved in the attack vary from 25 to 30, the statement said, adding that they had raised the Islamic State flag. They took their positions facing the door of the mosque and its 12 windows before opening fire on the worshipers, it said. The terrorists used five vehicles in the attack and torched 7 vehicles owned by worshippers, the statement added. The prosecutor said that according to the injured people, some of the terrorists were masked and others were not and all of them were dressed in military-like outfits. After the bomb ripped through the mosque, the gunmen on four off-road vehicles opened fire on the worshippers who tried to escape from the site after the explosion, it said. Speaking to state-run Masriya TV station, Egyptian health ministry spokesman Khalid Mujahid described the incident as a “terrorist attack.” One report said the target appeared to be supporters of the security forces who were praying at the mosque.
Local people were also quoted as saying that followers of Sufism, or Islamic mysticism, regularly gathered at the mosque. Islamist jihadist groups, including so-called Islamic State (IS), see Sufis as heretics. About 50 ambulances were rushed to the attack site to shift the injured to hospitals. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack and there is no word yet on what happened to the terrorists involved. There have been regular attacks blamed on militants on the Sinai peninsula since the January 2011 revolution that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak, but this is the deadliest assault of its kind. The attacks targeting police and military increased after the ouster of Islamist ex-president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 by military following massive protests against his rule.
Over 700 security personnel have been reported killed since then. The military has launched security campaigns in the area, arrested suspects and demolished houses that belonged to terrorists, including those facilitating tunnels leading to the Gaza Strip. The Egypt government has announced three days of mourning, even as President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi chaired an emergency meeting with officials to review security situation after the deadly attack.
Egypt has witnessed a series of terror attacks this year claiming scores of lives. On May 26, gunmen attacked a bus carrying Coptic Christians in central Egypt, killing at least 28 people and wounding 25 others. On April 9, two suicide bombings at Palm Sunday services at churches in the northern cities of Alexandria and Tanta left 46 people dead.