A three-day period of national mourning is under way in Egypt, following an attack on a mosque in the northern Sinai region. The sustained attack by extremists killed 305 worshippers, among them at least 27-children and wounded another 128.
The government says it was a well-coordinated attack, and President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said it won’t go unpunished.
CGTN’s Adel El-Mahrouky reports from Cairo.
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Egypt has been traumatized by an attack unheard of in the country’s modern history. Hundreds of unarmed civilians were killed and wounded while praying in a mosque in north Sinai, after militants detonated a bomb and sprayed the worshippers with gunfire for some 20 minutes.
“I was outside the mosque, and suddenly, I heard gunshots inside, “said Abdullah Suleiman, speaking from his hospital bed.”I saw them running, and I went inside the mosque, I found all of the people climbing on top of each other. They were trying to get out of the mosque, because they were afraid. And I was trying to get out, and a bullet entered my leg.”
“Entire families have been killed during this attack inside the mosque. And families who were outside the mosque in the Rawda village were also attacked,” said Diaa Rashwan, Chairman of the Egypt State Information Service. “These groups have lost the power to attack security check points as they used to. Now they’re starting to attack a mosque for the first time in Egypt in 200 years.”
In the hours after the attack, no group had claimed responsibility for it, although some of the militants reportedly carried ISIL flags. After meeting with the country’s top security officials, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi addressed the nation announcing the three days of mourning.
“This attack will only increase our persistence and will strengthen our unity,” he said.” The Armed Forces and the police will revenge our martyrs, restore security and stability with extreme force in the coming short period.”
According to officials, the military conducted several airstrikes in the Al Areesh region, destroying vehicles used in the attack as well as weapons warehouses. They also targeted mountainous areas believed to be where militants were hiding.
The attack comes one week before the Islamic world marks the birthday of Prophet Mohammed. Mosques should be been getting ready with decorations to celebrate. Instead an entire country is in mourning.