At Least 300 Killed In Attack On Sufi Mosque In Egypt
RFE/RL November 25, 2017
Egypt's military says warplanes have attacked several vehicles used in a November 24 attack against a Sufi mosque that killed hundreds of people in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula.
The military's November 25 statement said the vehicles were hit in the vicinity of the attack that took place a day earlier in the town of Bir al-Abd, about 40 kilometers from the provincial capital, El-Arish.
Meanwhile, Egyptian prosecutors said on November 25 that the death toll from the attack had risen to 305, including 27 children.
A statement from Egyptian prosecutors also said that 25 to 30 militants who were involved in the attack were suspected Islamic State (IS) militants and had "raised the flag" of the extremist group.
Authorities say another 128 people were injured when militants with explosives and assault rifles stormed the mosque during Friday Prayers on November 24 -- the deadliest attack by Islamic extremists in Egypt's modern history.
Sunni Islamic extremists, including IS militants, consider Sufis to be heretics.
Egypt has been battling an insurgency led by an IS affiliate in the Sinai Peninsula that intensified after the military's 2013 ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood from power.
Hundreds have been killed in what has become a grinding stalemate in Sinai. The militants also have expanded their attacks to other parts of Egypt, carrying out deadly bombings of churches to terrorize the Christian minority and deadly gunbattles with security forces.
Egypt's government declared three days of mourning following the November 24 attack.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi also convened an emergency security meeting shortly after the attack and vowed to "reply to this terrorist act with harsh force against those terrorists."
"What is happening in Sinai, is a real reflection of the efforts that we're making in facing terrorism, that we are fighting and we are fighting by ourselves," Sisi said in a televised statement.
"Egypt is facing terrorism, on behalf of the region, and on behalf of the whole world," Sisi said. "Because of that, all of this that is taking place is an attempt to stop us in our efforts to fight terrorism, and an attempt to make us lose our will, our moves to stop the horrible criminal plans that aim to destroy what remains of our region."
The Associated Press quoted three police officers as saying that assailants who arrived in four off-road vehicles detonated explosives outside the mosque and then stormed inside -- opening fire on worshipers during weekly Friday Prayers.
Sheikh Mohamed Abdel Fatah Zowraiq, the main cleric at the mosque, said at least a dozen attackers charged inside the mosque during the attack.
U.S. President Donald Trump condemned the attack as "horrible and cowardly" and called Sisi to offer condolences.
"The world cannot tolerate terrorism, we must defeat them militarily and discredit the extremist ideology that forms the basis of their existence!" Trump wrote on Twitter.
With reporting by AP, dpa, Reuters, and AFP
Copyright (c) 2017. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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