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Egypt: Mosque attack death toll climbs to 305 as warplanes strike 'terrorist' targets

Egypt: Mosque attack death toll climbs to 305 as warplanes strike 'terrorist' targets

Egypt

Egypt’s military has responded with air strikes directed at “terrorist” locations and vehicles after hundreds of people were killed in a bomb and gun assault on a mosque in the north of the country, sources report.

It further reports that Egypt’s chief prosecutor, Nabil Sadeq, said the 305 people killed included 27 children, while a further 128 people were wounded in the attack on the al-Rawdah mosque in Bir al-Abed, north Sinai.

No group immediately claimed responsibility, but since 2013 Egyptian security forces have battled an Islamic State affiliate in the mainly desert region, and militants have killed hundreds of police and soldiers.

The prosecutor also added that the attack was carried out by 25 to 30 militants, who stationed themselves at the mosque’s main door and 12 windows before opening fire on worshippers inside.

Hours after the attack, Egypt’s military launched air strikes on targets in mountainous areas around Bir al-Abed, security sources and witnesses said.

Striking at a mosque would be a change in tactics for the Sinai militants, who have usually attacked troops and police and Christian churches.

Friday’s attack prompted wide international condemnation, with US President Donald Trump among the leaders expressing their condolences and vowing to continue the fight against terrorism.

Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi had vowed to respond to the massacre, believed to be the deadliest terror attack on the country’s soil, with “brute force.” Sisi expressed concern recently that ISIS militants fleeing Iraq and Syria would come to Egypt.

Egyptian security forces face almost daily attacks from militants with ISIS ties in northern Sinai, a CNN report says.

The Wilayat Sinai group, which pledged allegiance to ISIS in 2014, has been behind numerous attacks and hundreds of deaths in the desert region. It claimed responsibility for the bombing of a Russian passenger jet which crashed in the Sinai Peninsula with the loss of 224 lives in October 2015.