At least 235 people were killed when gunmen opened fire and bombed a mosque in Egypt’s volatile Sinai Peninsula on Friday. Government officials said 109 more had been injured in the attack — among the deadliest in Egypt’s history.
Images from inside the building showed dozens of bodies wrapped in blood-soaked cloth lined up on the carpeted floor.
Police sources told the Associated Press that men in four off-road vehicles opened fire on worshippers in the al-Rawdah mosque in the town of Al Rawdah. NBC News could not immediately independently verify that account.
Two eyewitnesses and a security source told Reuters that the suspected militants targeted supporters of the security forces attending prayers. Citing official sources, the state-run MENA news agency reported that the mosque is largely attended by Sufi Muslims — a form of Islam considered heretical by some conservatives and extremists like the Islamic State group.
Around 50 ambulances were transferring victims to hospitals, according to the Ministry of Health. A statement issued by Egypt’s General Prosecutor Nabil Sadiq put the death toll at 235, with at least 109 others wounded.
A Health Ministry official told Al Jazeera TV that “there were many people inside the mosque — it’s only a small mosque.”
Gunmen shot worshippers fleeing the initial attack, he added.
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SOURCE: NBC News, Charlene Gubash and F. Brinley Bruton