Egypt reels af­ter at­tack on mosque

Mil­i­tants set off bomb, open fire

Pretoria News Weekend - - WORLD -

CAIRO: At least 235 peo­ple were killed yes­ter­day when mil­i­tants set off a bomb and opened fire on peo­ple at­tend­ing prayers at a mosque in Egypt’s restive north­ern Si­nai.

State me­dia showed im­ages of blood­ied vic­tims and bod­ies cov­ered in blan­kets in the Al Raw­dah mosque in Bir al-Abed, west of the city of El Ar­ish.

“They were shooting at peo­ple as they left the mosque,” a lo­cal res­i­dent whose rel­a­tives were at the scene said. “They were shooting at the am­bu­lances too.”

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 in­sur­gency that has killed hun­dreds of po­lice and sol­diers.

Ara­biya news chan­nel and some lo­cal sources said some of the wor­ship­pers were Su­fis who hard­lin­ers such as Is­lamic State re­gard as apos­tates be­cause they re­vere saints and shrines, which for Is­lamists is tan­ta­mount to idol­a­try.

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.

Mil­i­tants have mostly tar­geted se­cu­rity forces in their at­tacks since blood­shed in the Si­nai wors­ened af­ter 2013 when Sisi, then an armed forces com­man­der, led the over­throw of pres­i­dent Mo­hamed Mursi of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood.

But ji­hadists have also tar­geted lo­cal Si­nai tribes who are work­ing with the armed forces, brand­ing them traitors for co-op­er­at­ing with the army and po­lice.

In July, at least 23 sol­diers were killed when suicide car bombs hit two mil­i­tary check­points in the Si­nai, an at­tack claimed by Is­lamic State.

Mil­i­tants have tried to ex­pand be­yond the Si­nai Penin­sula into Egypt’s heav­ily pop­u­lated main­land, hit­ting Cop­tic Chris­tian churches and pil­grims. – Reuters


Peo­ple walk past a mosque in the north­ern city of El Ar­ish, Si­nai Penin­sula, Egypt, which was at­tacked yes­ter­day. Hun­dreds were killed and in­jured in a bomb­ing and gun­fire at­tack tar­get­ing wor­ship­pers leav­ing Fri­day prayers.

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