by Sam Zukin
Terror struck the Al-Rawdah Mosque located in Bir al-Abed, Egypt, on Friday when armed militants assaulted the people inside, leaving 305 dead and 128 people wounded according to a public state prosecutor.
Approximately 25 to 30 men engaged in the attack on the Sufi mosque utilizing five SUVs to reach the location and then proceeding to stand around the entrances. The militants detonated the bomb inside a building adjacent to the place of worship, killing many, and when the survivors fled the mosque, they were bombarded by the attackers who began shooting.
The perpetrators used destroyed cars to block the roads from people entering and leaving the scene. They shot at first-responders who came rushing to the horrific event. To evade capture, they left the mosque before the police arrived. The mosque became a grim graveyard which also left 27 children dead. “It was a horrible scene. There were bodies everywhere,” Mahmoud, a witness, told the Los Angeles Times.
Emergency services took multiple victims to the hospital in El Arish in northern Sinai, where it became a scene of mayhem due to the crowded atmosphere and many severe injuries. “We were swamped. We don’t know what to say. This is insane,” a medical official said.
Officially, there is no claim by any group except signs such as a sighting of a militant carrying an ISIS flag points to ISIS as the offenders. The area where the attack occurred remains a stronghold of the Islamic State terror group.
According to Reuters, the Egyptian military has executed airstrikes on terrorist hideouts in the mountainous areas surrounding the town. “The armed forces and police will avenge our martyrs and restore security and stability with the utmost force,” Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the President of Egypt, said.
The mosque and the people within belong to a branch of Islam called Sufism which believes in the mystical elements of the religion. Many extremist groups believe that this particular practice of Islam is both unorthodox and uncharacteristic. The Islamic State compared it to a “disease” and it is suspected to have killed many members.
Sisi has called for a three-day national mourning for the devastating attack and many international leaders have condemned the heinous onslaught. He also said that Egypt will “respond with brutal force.”
“The world cannot tolerate terrorism,” US President Donald Trump said. “We must defeat them militarily and discredit the extremist ideology that forms the basis of their existence.”
Funerals for the deceased were held during that same night and the following morning and in accordance with a Sufi practice, buried in their bloodied clothes.
(Sources: CNN, NY Times, Egyptian Streets, NY Daily News, USA Today)