A group of armed militants wielding IS flags launched a bomb and gun attack on a mosque in Egypt’s North Sinai province, killing over 300 people, state media reported.
Islamic State’s jihadists are believed to have carried out the attack on al-Rawda mosque located in the town of Bir al-Abed.
According to a BBC report, the massacre took place during Friday prayers and it is the deadliest attack of its kind since an Islamist insurgency in the peninsula was recorded in 2013.
At least 305 worshipers at the mosque met their untimely end on Friday.
After holding series of meetings with security officials, Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi vowed to respond immediately with “brute force.”
The Egyptian military said today 25 November that it has already conducted air strikes on “terrorist” targets.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but militants affiliated with the Islamic State have been responsible for scores of deadly attacks in the province.
Although the jihadists usually target security forces and Christian churches, this bloody attack on a mosque associated with Sufi Muslims has shocked the country.
An official statement from Egypt’s public prosecutor said there were up to 30 attackers at the scene.
Media reports confirm that dozens of gunmen arrived in off-road vehicles and bombed the packed mosque before opening fire on horrified worshipers who made frantic efforts to flee the scene.
The terrorists reportedly set vehicles ablaze at strategic positions within the vicinity to block off access to the mosque.
Over 100 persons suffered various degree of injuries. Pictures from the attack scene showed a large number of dead bodies lying in rows inside the mosque.
A local resident whose relatives witnessed the nightmarish incident told Reuters that the attackers continued shooting at people even on their way out of the mosque. They also shot at the ambulances, too.
The attack in Bir al-Albed is rated the deadliest terrorist attack in modern Egyptian history. It was directed against a mystical branch of Sunni Islam, Sufism, which IS jihadists view as heretics although they’re widely accepted in most Muslim countries.
Bir al-Abed is about 211 kilometers from Cairo.
According to the report, a leader of the IS group sounded out a warning in Sinai last December telling the “religious outcasts” to repent or risk getting killed. Two Sufi imams were also beheaded at the time of that warning.
Victims of their recent onslaught were mostly military conscripts.
The terrorist group attacked a police convoy near al-Arish and killed 18 policemen last September. Their attacks on the Sinai peninsula have continued in recent years since Egypt’s military overthrew Islamic President Mohammed Morsi after a mass anti-government protest in July 2013.
Will be calling the President of Egypt in a short while to discuss the tragic terrorist attack, with so much loss of life. We have to get TOUGHER AND SMARTER than ever before, and we will. Need the WALL, need the BAN! God bless the people of Egypt.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 24, 2017