Egypt strikes ‘terrorist’ targets as mosque attack toll reaches 300
Cairo, Nov 25 (IANS) The death toll in a horrific terror strike on a mosque in Egypt’s northern Sinai region has climbed to 300 as the military kicked off a hunt for the attackers and responded with airstrikes at “terrorist” locations and vehicles.
President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi vowed to respond to the gory attack on Al Rawdah mosque, affiliated with Sufi groups, with “brute force”. More than 100 people were injured, the BBC reported.
The mosque in the town of Bir al-Abed was bombed during Friday prayers and fleeing worshippers were then gunned down.
No group has yet claimed the massacare, one of the deadliest attacks on civilians in the country.
“What is happening is an attempt to stop us from our efforts in the fight against terrorism,” Sisi said in a televised address. “The armed forces and the police will avenge our martyrs and restore security and stability with the utmost force.”
Hours after the massacre, “terrorist spots”, where weapons and ammunition were reportedly stocked, had been bombed by Air Force jets in response. An Army spokesperson said that several vehicles used in the attack had been located and destroyed.
Dozens of gunmen surrounded the mosque in vehicles and opened fire on those trying to escape after bombs were set off. The militants were reported to have set parked vehicles on fire in the vicinity to block off access to the mosque and fired upon ambulances trying to help victims.
A witness told the Guardian he had heard calls for help emanating from other nearby mosques after the attack.
“I went with my family and friends to the scene of the mosque and found ambulances loading bodies and injured,” he said. “What happened in al-Rawdah is a massacre against peaceful civilians.”
“In the Ber al-Abd hospitals, there was chaos,” he said. “Blood and screaming were everywhere.”
There was also international condemnation for the attack. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called “for those responsible for today’s horrific attack to be swiftly brought to justice”.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “Strongly condemn the barbaric terrorist attack on a place of worship in Egypt. Our deep condolences at the loss of innocent lives.”
US President Donald Trump called it a “horrible and cowardly terrorist attack on innocent and defenseless” and said terrorism and its ideology must be defeated.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May, Foreign Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron also gave their condolences.
Landmarks and government buildings across the globe paid tribute to the victims. In Israel, which borders the Sinai peninsula, Tel Aviv’s city hall was lit up with the Egyptian flag.
In Paris, the Eiffel Tower went dark to honour victims of the attack. In England’s second largest city, The Library of Birmingham was lit up in the colors of Egypt’s flag.
And in Canada’s most populous city, Toronto, the CN Tower was also lit to honour of the victims.