A horrific terrorist attack has killed more than 235 people and wounded as many as 130 during prayers at the Rawdah Mosque in Egypt. Islamic militants are to blame. Be forewarned that some of the photos and videos below are graphic.
The attack, which occurred November 24 in the North Sinai province, was the “deadliest ever attack on Egyptian civilians by Islamic extremists” and involved both gunfire and explosives, according to The Times of Israel. U.S. President Donald Trump weighed in on the terror attack, writing on Twitter, “Horrible and cowardly terrorist attack on innocent and defenseless worshipers in Egypt. The world cannot tolerate terrorism, we must defeat them militarily and discredit the extremist ideology that forms the basis of their existence!”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Gunmen Opened Fire on Worshippers During the Attack From ‘Ambush Locations’
The carnage played out as people gathered for prayers in the mosque. “…gunmen opened fire on the worshipers gathered for weekly Friday prayers,” reported the Times of Israel, adding that an explosion tore through the mosque first. According to CNN, the explosions were designed to provoke those praying to flee the mosque. When they did flee, the gunmen were waiting for them and opened fire, CNN reported. Graphic videos circulated on social media.
The network reported that the gunman had positioned themselves in “ambush locations” to kill the fleeing worshippers. “After at least two explosions, gunmen who were waiting outside the mosque opened fire at worshipers as they fled Friday prayers,” CNN reported, citing the state-owned media outlet Ahram Online. Bodies were strewn throughout the floor of the mosque after the attack, and the terrorists even opened fire on ambulances that arrived to assist the wounded.
2. The Attack Bears the ‘Hallmarks of ISIS’
Who committed the attack? According to CNN, no one claimed responsibility in the hours right after it, but it bore similarities to tactics used by ISIS. “It bears the hallmarks of an attack by ISIS,” CNN reported. “Egyptian security forces face almost daily attacks from ISIS-aligned militants, whom they have been battling in northern Sinai for several years.”
According to UK Mirror, “It was the deadliest terror attack in modern Egyptian history, eclipsing the bombing of a Russian passenger jet which killed 224,” and the attackers were masked and carried black flags as they staged the terrorist attack on the peaceful worshippers at the mosque. There is an ISIS insurgency in the area, Mirror reported.
3. Children Died in the Attack as Terrorists Sprayed Machine Gun Fire at People
Children were among those killed in the attack, in which the terrorists wielded machine guns. “Masked insurgents wearing military uniforms and waving black flags carried out the massacre as they surrounded and stormed the building – including a kindergarten full of children – during Friday prayers,” reported UK Mirror.
Islamic militants also blew up cars to block people from escaping the coordinated attack. “Security officials told local media ISIS militants were blocking escape routes from the area by blowing up cars and leaving the burning wrecks in the street,” reported Fox News.
4. Terrorists Hid Among the Worshippers & One Official Called the Attack ‘Catastrophic’
The details kept getting worse and worse. By one account, terrorists hid themselves amidst the worshippers at the mosque. Thirty ambulances were at the scene.
Parliamentarian Mustafa Bakri wrote on Twitter that the attack was a “massacre,” saying, “The situation is catastrophic.” He added: “The terrorists were masked and surrounded the mosque during prayer, and terrorists wearing belts were hidden among the worshippers.”
5. It Was the Deadliest Terrorist Attack in Modern Egyptian History
Egypt has been plagued with deadly terrorist attacks for years, but the mosque attack in November 2017 is considered the country’s deadliest in its modern era. As a point of comparison, the infamous Luxor attack killed 62 people, according to EgyptianStreets.com.
A 2005 bombing attack on the resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh killed 88 people. Coptic Christians have also been the target in Egypt, with Palm Sunday suicide bombings killing 45 people. The downing of a Metrojet flight killed 224 people, but, although ISIS claimed responsibility for the plane crash, it’s still under investigation, EgyptianStreets reported.