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Published On: Sat, Nov 25th, 2017

Over 200 killed in mosque Bom blast in Egypt kill 235, injure 109

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epa06347847 People sit next to bodies of worshippers killed in attack on mosque in the northern city of Arish, Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, 24 November 2017. According to initial reports, dozens were killed and injured in a bombing and gunfire targeting worshipers leaving the Friday prayers in the northern city of Arish.  EPA/STR ATTENTION EDITORS: PICTURE CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT - BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE

epa06347847 People sit next to bodies of worshippers killed in attack on mosque in the northern city of Arish, Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, 24 November 2017. According to initial reports, dozens were killed and injured in a bombing and gunfire targeting worshipers leaving the Friday prayers in the northern city of Arish. EPA/STR ATTENTION EDITORS: PICTURE CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT – BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE

CAIRO :  At least 235 people were killed on Friday when Islamist militants set off a bomb and opened fire on people attending prayers at a mosque in Egypt’s restive northern Sinai, state media said. Egypt has declared three days of mourning after the attack, state television has said.
No group claimed responsibility for the assault but it was the deadliest yet in the region where for three years Egyptian security forces have battled an Islamic State (IS) insurgency that has killed hundreds of police and soldiers.At least 235 people have been killed in a bomb and gun attack on a mosque in the country’s northern Sinai Peninsula. The attack occurred in Bir al-Abed, a town in North Sinai province, shortly after Friday prayers.
State media showed images of bloodied victims and bodies covered in blankets inside the Al Rawdah mosque in Bir al-Abed, west of the city of El Arish. Another 109 people were wounded, the state news agency MENA reported.
“They were shooting at people as they left the mosque,” a local resident whose relatives were at the scene told Reuters. “They were shooting at the ambulances too.”Arabiya news channel and some local sources said some of the worshippers were sufis, who hardliners such as IS regard as apostates because they revere saints and shrines, which for Islamists is tantamount to idolatry.

The government declared a three-day period of mourning for the victims. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi condemned the attack, which he described as “criminal” and “cowardly” in a televised statement on Friday.He expressed condolences to the victims and their families and said the attack “will not go unpunished”.
“The armed forces and the police will avenge our martyrs and restore security and stability with the utmost force,” Sisi said.The Egyptian military launched air strikes on targets in mountainous areas around Bir al-Abed hours after the attack, security sources and witnesses told Reuters news agency.
No group has claimed responsibility but local affiliates of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group have claimed previous attacks.
The silence in Sinai: Covering Egypt’s ‘war on terror’ Officials said the attackers arrived in four 4WD vehicles and carried out their attack while the sermon was being delivered after Friday prayers. Local media reports said the attackers planted explosives and then opened fire on worshippers.
The attackers next targeted fleeing worshipers with gunfire. Images on Egyptian state TV showed dozens of bodies covered in blood, lying inside a mosque. Most of their faces were covered with white cloths, while other bodies were wrapped in prayer rugs. Some men and women could be seen next to the bodies.
The previous attacks in Sinai mostly targeted security forces and members of Egypt’s Coptic Christians minority.However, mosques in North Sinai’s Sheikh Zuweid town have also been attacked.It is believed the Bir al-Abed mosque was an easy target because it was outside the province’s main cities.
The mosque may also have been targeted because it followed a Sufi sect. Sufis are considered infidels by groups such as ISIL.In 2016, ISIL fighters released pictures purporting to be of the execution of a 100-year-old Sufi religous leader, whom they accused of “witchcraft”.
Kaldas said ISIL has been “more willing to target civilians, as we saw with a lot of attacks on the Egyptian-Christian community in the past year”.Egypt has for years been battling an armed anti-government campaign in the rugged and thinly populated Sinai Peninsula, which has gained pace since the military overthrew democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in mid-2013.
“It’s a mountainous desert area that’s not very developed. Even with the best strategy, it’s a difficult place to control.” Local news media reported the closure after Friday’s attack of the El Arish-Rafah road, further east.
The mosque massacre prompted condemnations from across the world. Jens Stoltenberg, NATO secretary-general, called the attack “barbaric” while Theresa May, British prime minister, described it as an “evil and cowardly act”.US President Donald Trump condemned the massacre as “horrible and cowardly”.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a former armed forces commander who presents himself as a bulwark against Islamist militants in the region, convened an emergency security meeting soon after the attack, state television said.
But jihadists have also targeted local Sinai tribes that are working with the armed forces, branding them traitors for cooperating with the army and police. In July this year, at least 23 soldiers were killed when suicide car bombs hit two military checkpoints in the Sinai, an attack claimed by Islamic State.Coptic group travelling to a monastery in southern Egypt, killing 29. (With Agency Report ).

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