The Egyptian army announced on Saturday that it had carried out nightly air strikes against Islamists held responsible for the attack on a mosque that killed 305 people in northern Sinai, according to a latest official report. .
Twenty-seven of the 305 killed are children, writes the Egyptian news agency Mena, adding that the attack on Friday also caused 128 injuries.
This action was not claimed, but according to a statement from the Prosecutor General’s Office, the assailants, some of whom were hooded and wore military-style uniforms, waved a flag of the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group and were in their thirties.
“They were 25 to 30, waving the Daesh flag and took up positions in front of the mosque door and its 12 windows, with automatic weapons,” the statement said.
This is the deadliest attack Egypt has ever seen. The attackers blew up a bomb and opened fire on worshipers who were praying inside the Al Raoudah mosque in Bir al-Abed, near Al Arich, the main town in the north of the peninsula.
Witnesses said that the attackers, who had arrived on four jeeps, had positioned themselves in various locations around the mosque.
In attempting to flee their place of worship, the victims were caught in crossfire. The attackers even fired on ambulances and set fire to vehicles to block the evacuation of the wounded.
This act has been condemned by the leaders of the international community, whether in Washington, Moscow or Paris.
“JUSTICE WILL BE MADE”
French President Emmanuel Macron spoke on the phone Friday with his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fattah al Sissi, to which he presented his condolences after this “terrorist attack”, said a statement from the Elysee.
“The President of the Republic recalled the full support of France to Egypt in the fight against the terrorist scourge.France is standing alongside Egypt in this event,” reads also in the statement.
According to local sources, some of the faithful who gathered in the mosque were followers of Sufism, a Muslim brotherhood targeted by Islamists like IS because it reveres saints and shrines, which, for fundamentalists, is of idolatry. ISIS has already attacked Sufis and Shiites in other countries such as Iraq.
President Sisi promised to use “extreme force” against the perpetrators of this killing.
“Justice will be done against those who participated, contributed, supported, financed or orchestrated this cowardly attack,” he said. Speaking on television, he announced that “the armed forces and the police will avenge our martyrs and restore security and stability with maximum force”.
The military staff announced on Saturday that “The air force has eliminated in recent hours a number of outposts used by terrorist elements.”
Since the dismissal of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in the summer of 2013, the Islamist insurgency has intensified in Egypt and scores of deaths in the ranks of the army and police.
Sinai jihadists targeted the security forces at the beginning of their insurgency and then the local tribes who collaborate with the armed forces.