By Sana Elouazi
Rabat – At least 235 people were killed and 130 others wounded on Friday, November 24, when gunmen attacked a mosque in northern Egyptian Sinai, reported Egyptian authorities.
The attack occurred in the village of Bir Al-Abed, located roughly 40 kilometers from El-Arich, the capital of North Sinai province.
The masked terrorists unleashed a suicide bomb before opening fire during the Friday prayer on the worshipers, among whom were army conscripts.
A leader of a Bedouin group fighting ISIS told AFP that the mosque was known as a gathering place for Sufis, followers of a mystical stream of Islam considered as heretic by the jihadist group.
Egyptian Parliamentarian Mustafa Bakri called the attack a “massacre,” writing on Twitter that “the situation is catastrophic.”
“The terrorists were masked and surrounded the mosque during prayer, and terrorists wearing belts were hidden among the worshippers,” he added.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has declared three days of national mourning and convened a small ministerial council after the attack.
Since the removal of the elected Islamist president Mohamed Morsi by the army, jihadist groups, including the Egyptian branch of the Islamic State (known as ISIS), have regularly attacked the Egyptian security forces in northern Sinai.
Many police and soldiers, as well as civilians, were killed in these attacks.
Egypt is also threatened by al-Qaeda-linked jihadists operating from Libya on the country’s western border.
A group called Ansar al-Islam, “the Supporters of Islam,” claimed an ambush in October in the western Egyptian desert that killed at least 16 policemen.
The local wing of ISIS has also reported several attacks against civilians, including Christians and Sufis. More than 100 Christians, mostly Copts, have been killed in attacks on churches or targeted attacks in Sinai and across the country.