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Egypt terror attack

by Mary Roche
Posted on Nov 30, 2017

On Nov. 24, militants bombed a mosque in Egypt. At least 235 people were killed and 109 injured. Dozens of attackers also shot at people fleeing the scene and ambulances carrying injured passengers. The militants arrived on all terrain vehicles during the bombing. Security officials told The New York Times the bomb was probably set off by a suicide bomber.

The mosque may have been chosen because it was outside most of Egypt’s big cities. On the northern Egypt peninsula, Al Rawda mosque is over 100 miles north of Cairo.  is a popular spot for Sufi Muslims, who are considered heretical by other branches of Islam.

“Attacks on mosques are rare in Egypt,” The New York Times wrote, “where the Islamic State has targeted Coptic Christian churches and pilgrims but avoided Muslim places of worship.”

Other northern mosques have been attacked as well, but most ISIL attacks have focused on Coptic Christians.

Early on Nov. 25, Egypt launched air strikes in mountains near the mosque, the BBC wrote. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi declared three days of mourning after the attack and made a televised statement expressing condolences on Nov. 24. No terrorist groups have claimed responsibility, but the attack seems to match up with those by the Islamic State.

The attack "fits the pattern of ISIS attacks," Timothy Kaldas, a professor at Nile University in Cairo, told Al Jazeera. He also said ISIL has been targeting more civilians in the last year, which Egypt has seen in the attacks on Egyptian Christians.

The attack may have taken place for various reasons.

"Potentially, it's another attack against Sufis in northern Sinai. Potentially, it's retaliation for tribes co-operating with the state in the crackdown on ISIS," Kaldas told Al Jazeera.

In 2014, a suicide bombing killed 33 soldiers. As a result, Sisi declared a state of emergency in the peninsula and has since conducted a “scorched earth strategy” to crack down on Islamic militance. They hoped this would help destroy things that could be useful to militants. However, these attacks have continued to occur over the past few years.

“We will respond to this act with brutal force,” El-Sisi said in his statement.

Kaldas told Al Jazeera that the area of the attacks is difficult to control, which has contributed to the heavy handed military strategy.

The massacre has attracted attention from around the world, including British Prime Minister Theresa May, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and President Trump.

"The world cannot tolerate terrorism,” the president said via Twitter. “We must defeat them militarily and discredit the extremist ideology that forms the basis of their existence!”

This attack is one of the largest attacks in Egypt’s recent history, only comparable to the bombing of a Russian passenger plane in 2015.

 

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