By Ahmed Tolba and St. Patrick Markey

CAIRO, November 24 (Reuters) — Militants killed to a greater extent than 230 populate at a mosque in Northward Sinai on Friday, detonating a bomb and gunning pop worshippers in the deadliest so much fire of Egypt’s New history, nation media and witnesses aforementioned.

No group right away claimed responsibility, just since 2013 Egyptian certificate forces take battled a unregenerate Moslem State assort in the mainly abandon region, and militants get killed hundreds of patrol and soldiers.

State media showed images of bloodied victims and bodies covered in blankets interior the Al Rawdah mosque in Bir al-Abed, Benjamin West of El Arish, the chief metropolis in Septentrion Sinai Peninsula.

Worshippers were finish Friday prayers at the mosque when a bombard exploded, witnesses said. Some 40 gunmen congeal up positions exterior the mosque with jeeps and open fervency from unlike directions as populate tested to evasion.

«Four groups of armed men attacked the worshippers inside the mosque after Friday noon prayers. Two groups were firing at ambulances to deter them, said Mohamed, a witness.

The public prosecutors’ office said in a statement 235 people had been killed and 109 more wounded.

Hours after the attack, Egypt’s military launched air strikes on targets in mountainous areas around Bir al-Abed, security sources and witnesses said.

«The armed forces and the police force wish revenge our martyrs noticias de hoy internacionales and regenerate surety and stability with the extreme force,» Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said in a televised address.

«What is occurrence is an endeavor to block off us from our efforts in the engagement against terrorism, to destroy our efforts to halt the dread crook design that aims to demolish what is unexpended of our region.»

Egypt later said it would delay the opening of the Rafah border crossing to Gaza after the attack due to security concerns. The crossing had been due to open for three days beginning on Saturday.

Striking at a mosque would be a change in tactics for the Sinai militants, who have usually attacked troops and police and Christian churches.


Arabiya news channel and some local sources said some of the worshippers were Sufis, whom groups such as Islamic State consider targets because they revere saints and shrines, which for Islamists is tantamount to idolatry.

The jihadists have also attacked local tribes and their militias for working with the army and police, branding them traitors.

The Sinai branch is one of Islamic State’s surviving branches following the collapse of its self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq after military defeats by U.S.-backed forces.

Sisi, a former armed forces commander who presents himself as a bulwark against Islamist militancy, convened an emergency meeting with his defence and interior ministers and intelligence chief soon after the attack.

Security has long been one of the key sources of public support for the former general, who is expected to run for re-election early next year for another four-year term.

U.S. President Donald Trump, in a post on Twitter on Friday, called the assault a «ugly and cowardly terrorist attack».

«The reality cannot endure terrorism, we must defeat them militarily and discredit the radical political theory that forms the groundwork of their existence,» he addded.

Trump later said he would call Sisi to discuss the attack. A White House statement called on the international community to strengthen its efforts to defeat terrorist groups.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drain also condemned the attack and said Paris stood with its ally.


North Sinai, which stretches from the Suez Canal eastwards to the Gaza Strip and Israel, has long been a security headache for Egyptian security forces because of smuggling.

Sisi has support from some Bedouin tribal leaders, who have helped the army locate weapon-smuggling routes used by jihadi groups, security officials said.

Local militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, once allied to al Qaeda, split from it and declared allegiance to Islamic State in 2014.

Bloodshed in the Sinai worsened after 2013 when Sisi led the overthrow of President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Islamic State earlier this year posted a video of the beheading of two Sufis in northern Sinai, accusing them of practicing «sorcery».

In July this year, at least 23 soldiers were killed when suicide car bombs hit two military checkpoints in the Sinai, in an attack claimed by Islamic State.

Militants have tried to expand their operations into Egypt’s heavily populated mainland, hitting Coptic Christian churches and pilgrims. In May, gunmen attacked a Coptic group travelling to a monastery in southern Egypt, killing 29. (Additional reporting by Mohamed Abdellah and Eric Knecht in Cairo and Yousri Mohamed in Ismalia; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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