In Egypt’s worst atrocity in recent years, 25-30 people wearing masks and military gear massacred the al-Rawdah mosque in Bir al-Abed, which is located in Egypt’s North Sinai region, on Nov. 24 during Friday prayer service. Using bombs and guns, the attackers killed over 305 worshipers, including 27 children, and injured 128 more. The attackers stationed themselves at the mosque’s main entrance and windows before opening fire. “When the shooting began everyone was running and bumping into each other,” said survivor Magdy Rezk. A bomb ripped through the mosque as well. More than 50 ambulances carried casualties 25 miles away to hospitals in Arish, the closest city.
No group has claimed responsibility, but an Islamic State (IS) affiliate is suspected to be behind the massacre. Egypt has spent the past three years fighting an IS insurgency that has killed hundreds of soldiers and police in the state. This would be IS’s first attack in Egypt on a mosque, and the Rawdah mosque is frequented by Sufis, an Islamic sect IS considers heretical.
The attack has reinvigorated Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi’s efforts against terrorism in the region. He has ordered the military to restore “stability and security” within three months in Sinai, where IS killed 224 people in a 2015 plane bombing.