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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Sunday, December 17, 2017

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Mosque massacre: Scores killed in militant attack in Egypt

85 people were killed and

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CAIRO, Egypt - In what became the year’s deadliest bombing in Egypt, at least 85 people were killed and dozens more wounded in an attack on Friday. 

Egypt’s state media said that Islamist militants set off a bomb and opened fire on people attending prayers at a mosque in Egypt's restive northern Sinai on Friday. 

The attack has not been claimed by any group so far but comes at a time when the Egyptian security forces are engaged in battling an Islamic State insurgency that has killed hundreds of police officers and soldiers over the last three years.

The country’s State media broadcast images of victims covered in blood inside the Al Rawdah mosque in Bir al-Abed, west of the city of El Arish. 

After the attack, the state news agency MENA reported that at least 85 people died and another 80 people were injured.

Meanwhile, the Arabiya news channel and some local sources said that some of the worshippers were Sufis, who are regarded as apostates by hardliners including the Islamic State terror group since they revere saints and shrines, which for Islamists is tantamount to idolatry.

Following the attack, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a former armed forces commander convened an emergency security meeting.

After Sisi led the campaign to overthrow President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013, bloodshed in the Sinai has worsened.

Since then militants have mostly targeted security forces in their attacks and Sisi has presented himself as a bulwark against Islamist militants in the region.

In recent years, however, jihadists have also targeted local Sinai tribes that are working with the armed forces, branding them traitors for cooperating with the army and police.

Earlier this year, in July, 23 soldiers were killed when suicide car bombs hit two military checkpoints in the Sinai.

The attack was subsequently claimed by the Islamic State.

In May, gunmen launched an attack on a Coptic group travelling to a monastery in southern Egypt, leaving 29 people dead.

 

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