Friday, 24 November 2017

285 killed, 300 wounded in terrorist attack in Egypt - Homeland Security Newswire

A packed mosque in Egypt’s North Sinai was attacked by gunman earlier today, at the height of Friday prayers. The gunmen set off explosives and opened fire, killing at least 285 people and wounding about 300 in the deadliest ever attack on Egyptian civilians by Islamic terrorists.
The Guardian reports that the attack took place at the Rawdah mosque in the town of Bir al-Abd, about forty kilometers west of the North Sinai capital of el-Arish.
The Sinai has seen repeated deadly attacks by Islamist militants in the last four years.
Sky News Arabia said Egyptian military forces had destroyed two vehicles carrying perpetrators of the attack.
An army spokesperson told the TV network that unmanned drones had attacked two cars in a desert area called al-Risha, killing fifteen militants. He added that the hunt for other perpetrators was ongoing.
Witnesses said the attackers surrounded the mosque with all-terrain vehicles, then planted a bomb outside. The gunmen then mowed down the panicked worshipers as they attempted to flee, and used the congregants’ own vehicles to prevent rescuers and police from getting near the mosque.
President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi convened his security ministers to deal with the attack.
Egyptian officials said men in four off-road vehicles detonated an explosive device at the mosque during the sermon at Friday prayers, then opened fire on worshipers as they fled the building. After killing or wounding most of those fleeing the attack, a few of the militants entered the mosque and shot dozens of wounded worshippers who were trapped inside the building.
Other militants remained outside, shooting at ambulances which tried to pick up the wounded.
The Guardian notes that ISIS’s Egyptian branch has killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers, and also civilians accused of working with the authorities, in attacks in the north of the Sinai Peninsula. They have also targeted followers of the mystical Sufi branch of Sunni Islam as well as Christians.
The Egyptian military has struggled to defeat the jihadists, and in the past few months has increased cooperation with the Israeli military.
Until recently, the jihadists targeted mostly soldiers and members of Egypt’s security forces, but since earlier this year have increasingly turned to civilian targets, attacking not only Christians and Sufis but also Bedouin Sinai inhabitants accused of working with the Egyptian army.

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