Armed attackers on Friday killed at least 235 worshippers in a bomb and gun assault on a packed mosque in Egypt’s restive North Sinai province, state media reported, the country’s deadliest attack in recent memory. A bomb explosion ripped through the Rawda mosque frequented by Sufis roughly 40 kilometres west of the North Sinai capital of El-Arish before gunmen opened fire on those gathered for weekly Friday prayers, officials said.
Witnesses said the assailants had surrounded the mosque with all-terrain vehicles then planted a bomb outside. The gunmen then mowed down the panicked worshippers as they attempted to flee and used the congregants’ vehicles they had set alight to block routes to the mosque. State television reported at least 235 people were killed and 109 wounded in the attack, the scale of which is unprecedented in a four-year insurgency by Islamist extremist groups.
Egypt’s presidency declared three days of mourning, state television reported, as President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met his security ministers to follow developments. UK foreign minister Boris Johnson condemned the “barbaric attack” in a post on Twitter, while his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian expressed his condolences to the families of victims of the “despicable attack”. Ahmed Abul Gheit, head of the Arab League, condemned the “terrifying crime which again shows that Islam is innocent of those who follow extremist terrorist ideology.