By Snigdha Kalra
On Friday, 24th November, militants attacked the al-Rawda Mosque in the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. It has been termed as the deadliest attack in the modern history of Egypt, which killed more than 305 people and injured over 128 others. Sinai has been the victim of frequent terrorist attacks mainly targeted towards churches. This is the first time that a mosque has been attacked. It is believed that it was conducted by the ISIS, which has been rooted in the Sinai Peninsula since 2014.
How was the attack executed?
A bomb went off during the Friday prayers at the mosque. According to the security officials, it was planted by a suicide bomber. The bombing caused panic among the worshippers who tried to escape. However, masked gunmen, who were hiding in four off-road vehicles, surrounded the civilians and opened fire.
The gunmen stationed themselves in front of the doors and windows of the mosque, thereby blocking escape routes. Vehicles parked outside the mosque were burned down to prevent people from escaping. Ambulances which arrived to help the injured were also shot at. The attackers also launched grenades at the mosque.
The ISIS and Sufism
It is believed that the number of militants ranged from 25 to 30. While no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, it is believed that they belonged to a local group of the Islamic State, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which has been known to conduct attacks against Sufi Muslims in the area. The Islamic State opposes Sufism, a mystical form of worship. It considers Sufism as heretical and calls it a “disease”. Since 2016, it has been attacking Sufi shrines in Pakistan and Balochistan and assassinating Sufi clerics in Egypt as well.
United against terrorism
In response to the attack, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi announced three days of national mourning and declared that he will respond to the attack with brutal force and that it will not go unpunished. He said, “The armed forces and the police will avenge our martyrs and restore security and stability with the utmost force.”
US President Donald Trump said in a tweet, “Horrible and cowardly terrorist attack on innocent and defenceless worshipers in Egypt. The world cannot tolerate terrorism, we must defeat them militarily and discredit the extremist ideology that forms the basis of their existence!” French President Emmanuel Macron, French Ambassador to Egypt Stéphane Romatet, and the Ambassador to the European Union in Cairo, Ivan Surkoš, also condemned the attack. Russian President Vladimir Putin offered his condolences to the Egyptian President. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) called the attack heinous and cowardly. Sweden, the UAE and the UK were also among those who offered support to Egypt.
In a quickly executed vengeance, the Egyptian army launched air strikes against militants in the affected area just hours after the attack, destroying the vehicles which were used by the attackers. Clearly, Sisi’s claims were not mere words, Egypt is ready to take a tough stance against the militants.
Featured Image Source: Visual Hunt
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