Death Toll Rises to More Than 305 in Egypt Mosque Attack
CAIRO—More than two dozen militants carried out the attack on a Sufi-linked mosque in the restive Sinai Peninsula that has killed at least 305 people, Egypt’s public prosecutor said Saturday, revealing new details about the deadliest assault in the country’s modern history.
Between 25 and 30 militants waving the Islamic State flag and armed with explosives and machine guns attacked during Friday prayers the Al Rawda mosque in Ber al Abd, which lies west of the city of Al Arish, according to the public prosecutor’s statement.
They set several vehicles owned by congregants on fire and randomly fired at the panicked worshipers. Those killed included at least 27 children, while more than 128 others were wounded, the statement added, updating the number of casualties.
The militants dressed in black T-shirts and camouflage pants had arrived at the mosque in five vehicles, the public prosecutor said.
The Egyptian army on Saturday said it carried out airstrikes overnight targeting the vehicles allegedly used in the attack, killing several militants. They also hit their hide-outs but didn’t give more details.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet. The Egyptian branch of Islamic State, known as the Sinai Province, has staged a string of terrorist attacks in the sparsely populated region of north Sinai since 2013. Those attacks have mostly targeted policemen and army troops but violence against Coptic Christians in Sinai has increased and the group has claimed some deadly attacks elsewhere in Egypt.
Friday’s attack on the mosque has shaken Egyptians because of its audacity and magnitude. Hundreds of Egyptians dug mass graves overnight to bury their loved ones, residents of the Sinai town where the attack took place said early Saturday. The dead were buried in the nearby town of Mazaar in their bloodstained, bullet-pierced clothes as is customary in Islamic rituals to bury martyrs, and not in white burial garments used to entomb those dying of natural causes, the residents said.