Cairo (November 24, 2017): Gunmen attacked a packed mosque in Egypt´s restive North Sinai province on Friday and set off a bomb, killing at least 235 people in one of the country´s deadliest attacks in recent memory, state media reported.
A bomb explosion ripped through the Rawda mosque roughly 40 kilometres west of the North Sinai capital of El-Arish before gunmen opened fire on the worshippers gathered for weekly Friday prayers, officials said.
The official Al-Ahram newspaper reported on its website that at least 235 people were killed and 80 wounded in the attack, which is unprecedented in a four-year insurgency by extremist groups.
The Daesh group´s Egypt branch has killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers, and also civilians accused of working with the authorities, in attacks in the north of the Sinai peninsula.
The victims included civilians and conscripts praying at the mosque.
Daesh regularly conducts attacks against soldiers and policemen in the peninsula bordering Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip, although the frequency and scale of such attacks has diminished over the past year.
They have since increasingly turned to civilian targets, attacking not only Christians and Sufis but also Bedouin Sinai inhabitants accused of working with the army.
Aside from Daesh, Egypt also faces a threat from Al-Qaeda-aligned militants who operate out of neighbouring Libya.
A group calling itself Ansar al-Islam — Supporters of Islam in Arabic — claimed an October ambush in Egypt´s Western Desert that killed at least 16 policemen.
Many of those killed belonged to the interior ministry´s secretive National Security Service.
The military later conducted air strikes on the attackers, killing their leader Emad al-Din Abdel Hamid, a most wanted militant who was a military officer before joining an Al-Qaeda-affiliated group in Libya´s militant stronghold of Derna.