MILITANTS have launched a bomb and gun attack on a mosque in Egypt’s North Sinai province, killing 235 people, state media say.
Witnesses say the al-Rawda mosque in the town of Bir al-Abed, near al-Arish, was targeted during Friday prayers.
It is the deadliest attack of its kind since an Islamist insurgency in the peninsula was stepped up in 2013.
Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi vowed to respond with “brute force” after talks with security officials.
No group has yet claimed the attack, but militants affiliated with so-called Islamic State have been responsible for scores of deadly attacks in the province.
They usually target security forces and Christian churches.
Witnesses said dozens of gunmen arrived in off-road vehicles and bombed the packed mosque before opening fire on worshippers as they tried to flee.
The assailants are reported to have set parked vehicles on fire in the vicinity to block off access to the mosque.
Pictures from the scene show rows of bloodied victims inside the mosque. At least 100 people were wounded, reports say.
“They were shooting at people as they left the mosque,” a local resident who had relatives there told Reuters news agency. “They were shooting at the ambulances too.”
It is one of the deadliest militant attacks in modern Egyptian history.
Locals are quoted as saying that followers of Sufism, or Islamic mysticism, regularly gathered at the mosque.
Some jihadist groups, including so-called Islamic State (IS), see Sufis as heretics.
The victims included military conscripts. – BBC News
– Nov. 24, 2017 @ 17:40 GMT /