The Oasis Reporters
November 25, 2017
At least 235 people were reportedly killed in an attack that took place at The al-Rawda mosque in Egypt over twelve hours ago, which has now risen to 305.
According to officials, the militants opened fire from four off-road vehicles on Sufi worshippers during a Friday sermon in the Rawda mosque, roughly 40 kilometres west of the North Sinai capital of El-Arish, blocking off escape routes from the area by blowing up cars and leaving the burning wrecks blocking the roads.
In a statement on Saturday, Egypt’s chief prosecutor, Nabil Sadeq, said the attack killed 305 people, including 27 children, and left 128 people wounded, according to France 24 Television.
The mosque, which is situated in Bir al-Abed, near al-Arish, was targeted during Friday prayers.
It is a Sufi mosque, considered to be the birth place of an important Sufi cleric.
Some ultra orthodox Muslims consider Sufism a mystical order that they find heretical.
BBC reports that no group has claimed responsibility of the attack but there have been attacks on churches and security operatives by a group affiliated with Islamic State in the region.
However, this is the first major attack on a mosque
The IS-affiliate is also believed to be responsible for a 2015 bomb attack on a Russian plane carrying tourists which left 224 people dead in Sinai.
President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt has vowed to respond with “brute force” and declared a 3-day mourning for the victims.
“The army and police will avenge our martyrs and return security and stability with force in the coming short period,” he added.
“They were shooting at people as they left the mosque, they were shooting at the ambulances too,” a local resident who had relatives there told Reuters.
Some world leaders including Donald Trump, US president, and Theresa May, UK prime minister, have already condemned the attack.
The death toll of at least 305 and over a hundred wounded in the attack, is unprecedented in the four-year insurgency by Islamist extremist groups, with victims that include civilians and conscripts.
No one claimed responsibility immediately following the attack, but the Islamic State (IS) group’s Egypt branch has targeted Sufis several times in the area in the past and has been waging a stepped-up campaign of violence against them.
The IS group shares the puritan Salafi view of Sufis as heretics for seeking the intercession of saints. The jihadists have previously kidnapped and beheaded an elderly Sufi leader, accusing him of practising magic, which Islam forbids, and abducted Sufi practitioners who have later been released after “repenting”.
But this was the first major militant attack on a Muslim mosque and the startling bloodshed eclipsed any past attacks of its kind, even dating back to a previous Islamic militant insurgency in the 1990s.
Images circulating on social media showed dozens of bloodied bodies wrapped up in sheets laid across the mosque floor, while others revealed dozens of relatives queuing up outside the hospital as ambulances raced back and forth.
Resident Ashraf el-Hefny said many of the victims were workers at a nearby salt firm who had come for Friday services at the mosque, which had contained some 300 worshipers.
“Local people brought the wounded to hospital on their own in cars and trucks,” he said.