Attack Kills Hundreds of Civilians
A terrorist attack on an Egyptian mosque in the country’s North Sinai region killed 305 people including 27 children. It was one of the deadliest extremist attacks ever carried out against civilians in the Arab nation.
According to media reports, two blasts hit a building adjacent to the mosque. Then terrorists armed with automatic machine guns opened fire on worshipers after attending Friday prayers.
Around 25 to 30 armed men in military-style uniforms orchestrated the deadly attack on the al Rawdah Sufi mosque in Bir al-Abed. They arrived in five SUVs, barricaded the entrance and without mercy opened fire on innocent civilians. The group of attackers then attempted to ambush ambulances accessing the area.
The mosque is known as the birthplace of an important Sufi cleric. Sufism is a mystical branch of Islam that some ultra-orthodox Muslims consider heretical.
Manhunt for the Attackers
President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi pledged to respond to the massacre on al Rawdah mosque with “brute force.”
The Egyptian military and air force launched a manhunt operation after the attack. Warplanes conducted airstrikes on “terrorist outposts” and their vehicles following the massacre.
Military spokesman Tamer Rifai said in a statement Saturday, “The Egyptian Air Force pursued the terrorist elements, discovered and destroyed a number of vehicles that carried out the brutal terrorist killings, and killed all terrorists inside those vehicles.”
The authorities cannot yet verify the identities of the attackers. However, an Egyptian public prosecutor said the attackers were carrying the ISIS terror group’s flag as they carried out the deadly attack.
The town of Bir Al-Abed lies on the main highway running east across northern Sinai to the city of Al-Arish and on to Rafah and Gaza.
World Leaders Condemn the Attacks
The appalling massacre drew strong condemnation from world leaders. U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron offered their condolences to Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi over the phone. Both leaders vowed to support Egypt in its counter terrorism initiatives.
In his twitter account, President Trump condemned the “horrible and cowardly terrorist attack on innocent and defenseless worshipers.”
French President Macron told el-Sissi that France is ready to support the Egyptian government, saying, “Paris is willing to increase cooperation with Egypt in combatting terrorism which became a global threat.”
In addition, Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau issued a statement on the mosque attack in Egypt. He said, “I am shocked and horrified by today’s terrorist attack in the al-Rawda mosque in Bir-Al-Abed, which killed and injured hundreds of worshippers. On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to the friends and families of the victims of today’s attack. We hope for a complete and rapid recovery for all those injured.”