At least 235 people have been killed in a bomb and gun attack on a mosque in Egypt’s North Sinai, state-run media reports, making it the country’s deadliest terror attack in modern history. More than 100 others have been injured.
The incident happened during Friday prayers when a bomb was detonated at the Al-Rawdah mosque in Bir Al-Abed, a village about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Arish, the capital of North Sinai. Gunmen then opened fire as worshippers tried to flee the scene.
The official news agency MENA reported that at least 235 people had been killed and 109 others have been injured, many of whom were reported to be in a critical condition. It is feared that the death toll will rise as many hundreds of people were attending Friday prayers.
Member of Parliament Mostafa Bakry said the mosque was surrounded by militants who opened fire from all-terrain vehicles after the bomb went off, trapping many people as they tried to flee the area. The attackers also opened fire on emergency services as they arrived at the scene.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the Al-Rawdah mosque was frequented by followers of the mystical Sufi branch of Sunni Islam. The Islamic State (ISIS) group has targeted Sufi Muslims in the past.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi declared three days of national mourning and vowed to respond with “brutal force” to avenge the massacre and to restore the region’s security. He added that Egyptians will “derive hope and determination from such pain to triumph in the war against black terrorism.”
Foreign countries such as the U.S. and Canada also condemned the attack, with the U.S. Embassy in Cairo calling it an “unconscionable act of cowardice and hate.” British Prime Minister Theresa May said she was “appalled” by what she described as a “sickening attack.”
“Horrible and cowardly terrorist attack on innocent and defenseless worshipers in Egypt,” U.S. President Donald Trump said on his Twitter account. “The world cannot tolerate terrorism, we must defeat them militarily and discredit the extremist ideology that forms the basis of their existence!”
Friday’s attack is the deadliest in Egypt’s modern history. At least 224 people were killed in October 2015 when a suspected bomb caused the crash of Metrojet Flight 9268 in North Sinai. That attack was claimed by ISIS.
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