Egypt Hunts for Militants After Mosque Attack Leaves Over 230 People Dead

Bodies lie on the floor of al Rawdah mosque in the northern Sinai after a gun and bomb attack Friday.

The Egyptian military kicked off a hunt for the attackers of a Sufi mosque in the northern Sinai, a military source said, combing the area of Friday’s assault that killed at least 235 people — thought to be the deadliest terror attack on the country’s soil.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi vowed to respond to the attack on al Rawdah mosque with “brute force.” Some 109 others were injured, Egyptian state media reported.

No one has claimed responsibility, but the strike bears the hallmarks of an attack by ISIS.

The mosque is known as the birthplace of an important Sufi cleric. Sufism is a mystical branch of Islam that some ultra-orthodox Muslims consider heretical.

Key developments

Coordinated attack: Gunmen fired on people fleeing after explosions took place at the mosque between Bir al-Abed and the city of al-Arish. The attackers also opened fire on ambulances, witnesses said.

The target: The mosque is known for being the birthplace of Sheikh Eid al-Jariri, a Sufi cleric considered the founder of Sufism in the Sinai Peninsula.

Egypt’s reaction: The President vowed to restore security and avenge those killed.

‘Ambush’ followed blasts

Blasts from improvised explosive devices caused considerable damage to the mosque, Ahram Online said.

The attack started when an explosive went off in a building adjacent to the mosque, and gunmen fired at worshippers as they fled, eyewitnesses told CNN.

Ashraf Abu Salem, 27, said gunmen then went inside the mosque to fire at people. Entering the mosque afterward, he said the bodies looked as if people had been shot in the back. His clothes were stained with the blood of the injured he helped to carry out, but he was unharmed.

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SOURCE: CNN, Ian Lee, Laura Smith-Spark and Hamdi Alkhshali