Suspected ISIS terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula, have killed 235 people in a suicide bomb and gun attack in a Sufi Muslims’ mosque in al-Rawdah, Bir al-Abed, West of Arish city in the Sinai region, in Egypt, during Friday prayers. Witnesses at the scene said immediatelty after the blast, those that tried to escape were shot by four gunmen who came in
four off-road vehicles.
‘They were shooting at people as they left the mosque,’ a local resident whose relatives were at the scene told Reuters. ‘They were shooting at the ambulances too.’
Witness reports say the the Beir El-Abd hospital, the only major medical facility near the place of the incident, about 25 miles away, could not contain the injured, over 180, media reports say, were brought in ambulances and private cars. Those more injured had to be taken to another hospital in Ismailia, another 75 miles further away.
The Islamic jihadists had previously targeted mainly Christians in the Arish region and had attacked churches severally, this is the first time ISIS in the Peninsula is attacking Sufi Muslims which the terror group considers heretics because they revere saints and shrines, which to Fundamental Islamists is the same as idolatry. Sufi Muslims have faced persecution by fundamentalists in Afghanistan and Pakistan for many years.
The Archbishop of Canterbury described the attack as ‘terrible beyond words’ as he said he was praying for those affected.
Condemning the attack, U.S. President Donald Trump, in a tweet, said, “The world cannot tolerate terrorism, we must defeat them militarily and discredit the extremist ideology that forms the basis of their existence!”
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi held an emergency meeting of security personnel shortly after the attack, according to state television. He also declared three days of national mourning.
The ten percent minority Coptic Christians, have consistently been targeted by the Islamic Jihadi terror group for forceful conversion to Islam or elimination. This year alone over 70 Coptic Christians have been killed in bomb blasts and attacks in the Palm Sunday attack and the bus massacre wile hundreds more have been wounded.
Hassan John is West Africa Editor, GCN and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos.