Toll in mosque carnage rises to 305 – Warplanes strike militant hideouts
ISMAILIA, Egypt, Nov 25, (Agencies): Egypt on Saturday said an attack on a mosque by militants in the country’s troubled region of northern Sinai has killed 305 worshippers, including 27 children, a dramatic increase in the death toll previously announced, which was 235.
A statement by the country’s chief prosecutor, Nabil Sadeq, said the attack Friday left another 128 people wounded.
It said the attackers, estimated at between 25 and 30, arrived at the mosque close to the small town of Bir al- Abd in five all-terrain vehicles and positioned themselves at the main door and the facility’s 12 windows before opening fire. They also torched seven cars parked outside the mosque, which belonged to worshippers inside.
Quoting testimonies given to investigators by survivors, the statement said some of the attackers were masked. Those who were not sported heavy beards and long hair. The militants wore camoufl aged pants and black T-shirts, it added.
In Kuwait, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al- Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah Friday sent a cable of condolences to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi over the victims of a bomb attack on Al Rawdah mosque in Bir Al-Abed in North Sinai. In the cable, His Highness the Amir condemned the attack as a terrorist act that violates Islamic religion and all religions, norms and human values.
His Highness the Amir reiterated Kuwait’s condemnation of these criminal heinous acts, while voicing solidarity and sympathy with Egypt and full support to all measures taken by Egypt to maintain its security and stability.
His Highness the Amir wished swift recovery of those injured in the attack. His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah sent the Egyptian president two condolence cables of similar sentiments.
An official source at the Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry Friday strongly deplored the bomb attack on a mosque in Egypt’s North Sinai on Friday, which left scores of victims.
The source said the State of Kuwait stands side by side with Egypt and supports all measures it is taking in order to preserve its security and stability. It believed that such “terrorist cowardly acts” would not affect Egyptian efforts to fight terrorism. It also reiterated Kuwait’s principled and firm position based on rejecting all forms of violence and terrorism, and calling for doubling international efforts to wipe out this serious phenomenon and rid humanity and the world of its evils.
The source offered heartfelt condolences over the victims of the attack, and wished the swift recovery of the injured.
National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim sent Friday a cable of condolences to Egypt’s Speaker of the House of Representatives Dr Ali Abdel Aal.
In the cable, Al-Ghanim expressed sincere condolences and sorrow over the victims of the “terrorist” attack that targeted a mosque in North Sinai, which killed and wounded hundreds of people. He denounced this “heinous terrorist act”, and affirmed full solidarity with the Egyptian people in their war on terror. Al-Ghanim also expressed his support of Egypt’s steps to preserve its security and stability, and counter all criminal attempts to destabilize the country’s unity.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Khaled Al-Jarrah Al- Sabah sent on Saturday a cable of condolences to Egyptian Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar over the victims of a heinous attack on Al-Rawdah Mosque in Bir Al-Abed in North Sinai.
In a statement issued by the ministry’s Public Relations and Security Media Department, Minister Al-Jarrah condemned the attack as a terrorist act that violates Islamic religion and all religions, norms and human values. He also reiterated Kuwait’s condemnation of these criminal heinous acts, while voicing solidarity and sympathy with Egypt and full support to all measures taken by Egypt to maintain its security and stability.
Minister Al-Jarrah wished swift recovery of those injured in the attack. Egypt mourned on Saturday as the death toll from a gun and bomb assault at a mosque in the Sinai Peninsula soared above 300, including children, in the deadliest attack the country has witnessed. The army said warplanes had struck militant hideouts in the insurgencywracked North Sinai in retaliation.
According to the state prosecution, up to 30 militants in camouflage flying the Islamic State (IS) group’s black banner had surrounded the mosque and proceeded to massacre the worshippers during weekly Friday prayers.
Twenty-seven children were among the dead, it said. IS has not claimed responsibility for the attack, but it is the main suspect as the mosque is associated with followers of the mystical Sufibranch of Sunni Islam whom it has branded heretics. Funerals for the victims were held overnight and many were buried unwashed in their bloodied clothes, according to the Islamic burial practices for martyrs, security and medical officials said.
El-Sisi declared three days of mourning and vowed to “respond with brutal force” to the attack, among the deadliest in the world since the Sept 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. “The army and police will avenge our martyrs and return security and stability with force in the coming short period,” he said in a televised speech. Hours later Egyptian air force jets pursued the “terrorists and discovered several vehicles used in the terrorist attack, killing those inside near the vicinity of the attack,” an army spokesman said in a statement.