Home WORLD NEWS ISIS raises stakes with Egypt mosque attack

ISIS raises stakes with Egypt mosque attack

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ISMAILIA, Egypt — The mosque was packed with hundreds of worshippers for Friday prayers in Egypt’s North Sinai when gunmen in military-style uniforms and masks appeared in a doorway and at windows.

The ease with which they mounted an attack — killing more than 300 people in the worst bloodshed of its kind in Egypt’s modern history — highlighted the threat militant groups pose in the most populous Arab country.

After four years of battling ISIS in the Sinai, where the group has killed hundreds of soldiers and police, authorities still face an enemy with growing ambitions in Egypt, despite its defeats in Iraq, Syria and Libya.

Carrying the black flag of ISIS, the assailants arrived in off-road vehicles before opening fire on the cream-colored Al Rawdah mosque in Bir al-Abed, leaving its carpets stained with blood, officials and witnesses said.

People scrambled to escape as gunmen opened fire at worshippers, including dozens of children. By the time the shooting stopped, many of the village’s men were lifeless.

No group has claimed responsibility.

ATTACK RATTLES EGYPTIANS

Egyptians were stunned because the attack was directed at a mosque – a rarity in the country’s history of Islamist insurgencies.

The possibility that ultra-hardline Islamists are shifting tactics and picking new targets is worrying for Egypt, where governments have struggled to contain groups far less brazen than ISIS.

Egyptian leaders have adopted a zero-tolerance policy, with air strikes, raids on militant hideouts and long prison sentences.

Image:

A burned truck is seen outside Al-Rawda Mosque in Bir al-Abd northern Sinai, Egypt a day after attackers killed hundreds of worshippers, on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017.