Turnbull condemns deadly Egypt attack
PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull has condemned the “appalling and barbaric” terrorist attack that killed more than 230 people at a mosque in Egypt’s North Sinai.
Militants detonated a bomb and gunned down worshippers during Friday prayers, in the deadliest attack in the country’s modern history.
The Australian Embassy in Cairo has been advised that no Australians are known to have been affected by the attack.
“We send our condolences to the families of the victims and wish a speedy recovery for the injured,” Mr Turnbull wrote on Twitter yesterday. “We are resolute in our determination to defeat Islamist terrorism.”
EGYPT’S President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has vowed to respond forcefully after attackers killed at least 235 worshippers in a packed mosque in restive North Sinai province.
Al-Sisi declared three days of mourning would begin the day after the gun and bomb assault on the Rawda mosque, 40km west of capital El-Arish.
In a televised speech the president pledged to “respond with brutal force”, adding that “the army and police will avenge our martyrs and return security and stability with force in the coming short period”.
Hours later Egyptian jets destroyed vehicles used in the attack and “terrorist” locations where weapons and ammunition were stocked.
Witnesses said assailants had surrounded the mosque with vehicles and detonated a bomb. They then mowed down panicked worshippers as they tried to flee and used congregants’ vehicles they had set alight to block routes to the mosque.
The state prosecutor’s office said 235 people were killed and 109 wounded — the most deadly incident in a four-year insurgency by Islamist extremists.
Children were among the dead. World leaders condemned the attack. US President Donald Trump condemned on Twitter the “horrible and cowardly terrorist attack on innocent and defenceless worshippers”.
Grand Imam of Cairo’s Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed elTayeb, condemned “in the strongest terms this barbaric terrorist attack”.
There was no claim of responsibility for the bloodshed. The Islamic State group’s Egypt branch has killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers and civilians accused of working with the authorities, in attacks north of the Sinai Peninsula.
They have also targeted followers of the Sufi branch of Sunni Islam as well as Christians. The head of a Bedouin militia that fights IS said the mosque is known as a place where Sufis gather.
The IS group shares the puritan Salafi view that Sufis are heretics.
The jihadists had previously kidnapped and beheaded an elderly Sufi leader, accusing him of practising magic.