Stunned worshippers sit next to rows of fellow congregants killed in attack on mosque in the northern city in Egypt. At least 235 were killed in the attack
A band of militants launched a deadly terrorist attack on a Sufi mosque in Egypt’s volatile Sinai Peninsula has killed at least 235 and injured dozens more on Friday, according to state media.
The terrorists who were operating from four all-terrain vehicles, stormed the mosque and detonated bombs before opening fire on the helpless congregation of men, women and children.
When they were done, the attackers left 235 worshippers dead and another 120 at least, injured in a terrifying bomb and gun attack.
Authorities in Egypt said men inside four off-road vehicles sprayed bullets at those gathered for Friday prayers at the house of worship in Al Rawdah, Sinai in what appeared to the latest attack by the local Islamic State affiliate.
A bomb was also reportedly detonated near the center of town while the service unfolded, Al Arabiya reported.
The dastardly attack left hundreds dead and injured in the attack of worshippers at prayer on Friday in Egypt
President Donald Trump took to Twitter to condemn the attack late Friday morning.
“Horrible and cowardly terrorist attack on innocent and defenseless worshipers in Egypt,” he wrote. “The world cannot tolerate terrorist, we must defeat them militarily and discredit the extremist ideology that forms the basis of their existence.”
Another 120 were injured in the strike, with officials noting the death toll is likely to continue to rise.
Sources within the ministry of health additionally told the network the attackers blocked off routes to hospitals and took aim at ambulances transporting the wounded.
Horrifying images and footage of the carnage, has been emerging showing rows and rows of dead people laid out with blood-soaked blankets over them – including tiny children.
Authorities are still trying to establish those responsible for the attack which has been described as the most deadly in the history of terrorism in the country.
The mosque belongs to a Sufi order – a mystical branch of Islam whose followers are regarded by ISIS and other hardline Islamists as apostates because they revere saints and shrines.
The jihadists had previously kidnapped and beheaded an elderly Sufi leader, who they accused of practicing magic which Islam forbids.
The sense of loss is evident among survivors after attackers detonated a bomb outside the mosque, and also opened fire in Al Rawda, Egypt on Friday
President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi convened an emergency meeting in wake of the deadly attack. He declared mourning for 3 days in remembrance of the victims of the bombing of Al-Rawda mosque.
Al Arabiya quoted a security source as saying that military and police are engaging the gunmen while residents of the village of Rawda have refused to provide shelter to the attackers.
Meanwhile, investigative teams, military and police are in the area and “chasing down the perpetrators,” a military source told the Guardian.
Egypt has long been battling militants in North Sinai, where hundreds of law enforcement and soldiers have been killed since the fighting there has intensified in recent years.
ISIS in September ambushed a police convoy in the area, leaving 18 police dead and another seven wounded.
The attack was the single largest targeting Egyptian civilians and the first on mosque since the Islamic State affiliate turned violent following the ousting of their elected but controversial Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013, in a military coup led by el-Sisi.
Militant attacks have mostly targeted security forces since, but Jihadis have also targeted Sinai tribes that are working with the armed forces, branding them traitors for their cooperation.
The latest attack comes on the back of the attempts by the Jihadis to expand beyond the largely barren, desert Sinai peninsula into Egypt’s heavily populated mainland, targeting Coptic Christian churches and pilgrims – In May, gunmen attacked a Coptic group travelling to a monastery in southern Egypt, killing 29.
Reacting to Friday’s attack the grand imam of al-Azhar mosque in Cairo, the center of Sunni learning, condemned the attack as an “attempt to spread chaos”.
“After targeting Christians, the turn for mosques have come,” he said in a statement. “As if terrorism wants to unite Egyptians in deaths and chaos, nevertheless it will be defeated, and the will of Egyptians will prevail.”