Egypt in mourning ... the story of deadly terrorist attack



Sat, 25 Nov 2017 - 08:04 GMT


Sat, 25 Nov 2017 - 08:04 GMT

Al Rawdah Mosque in North Sinai hit by terrorist attack on Nov.24, 2017 - press photo

Al Rawdah Mosque in North Sinai hit by terrorist attack on Nov.24, 2017 - press photo

“I heard gunshots as I was going to the prayers … I arrived to find my brother Amir gunned down, my younger brother was alive and my father was shot more than three times,” Mahmoud Magdy recalls the horrific scene, as he entered al-Rawdah Mosque, looking for his family, among hundreds of massacred worshipers laying on the bloody ground of the holy house.

Marking one of the deadliest attacks in history, 305 martyrs, including 27 children, were brutally killed on Friday 24, while performing Friday prayers at al-Rawdah mosque in Bir al Abd, North Sinai.

According to eyewitnesses, the 30 terrorists had initially come out riding all-terrain vehicles, which they ditched 150 meters away from the mosque. They then set off a bomb in the vicinity of the mosque, and started opening fire at the worshippers inside and outside the holy house. The attackers gunned down the trapped worshipers in a horrific 20 minutes massacre. They also targeted ambulances at the crime scene and set cars nearby ablaze

According to a statement released by the prosecutor general's office on Saturday, they stormed in with automatic rifles, wearing military-like outfits and waving a black flag - corresponding to that of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group -.

The attack started as the Imam, Sheikh Mohamed Raziq, was about to recite the Friday Khutba. Although having only endured minor injuries, Sheikh Mohamed recalls the attack, racked with pain. “People were trying to run away in all directions … The attackers did not have mercy for the children and they killed them with cold blood while they were begging,” he tells Egypt Today. “I hid among the bodies of the martyrs and injured so that no one sees me … They would follow and kill everyone who tried to escape; they would even follow them home and kill them.”

File- Al Rawdah Mosque in Arish city, after it had been targeted by terrorists


In a strong and serious condemnation to the attack, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi spoke to the public on Friday, vowing to respond with “brute force against that small band of extremist terrorists.”

Affirming that the “cowardly” attack reflects how inhumane the perpetrators are, the president asserted that it would not pass without decisive punishment and that “justice will be served against everyone who participated, contributed, supported, funded or incited this attack on worshipers.”

“All what is happening is an attempt to stop our efforts in our fight against terror and
an attempt to break our will and measures in ending the terrible criminal scheme that aims to destroy what remains of the region,” Sisi stated, emphasizing that the attacks in Sinai reflect Egypt’s efforts against terrorism and that Egypt leads the fight “on its own, and on behalf of the region and the entire world.”

The president asserted that the attack would be followed by a "deterring and firm punishment," adding that the "pain felt by the Egyptian people will not be in vain."

A few hours later, the Egyptian Air Forces launched airstrikes, targeting terrorist hideouts in mountain areas near the Arish attack scene. The attacks destroyed a number of pickups used in the atrocity and killed the “terrorists” on board, according to an official statement by army spokesman Tamer el-Refaie late Friday.

Other “terrorist hotbeds” were also discovered and targeted in cooperation between the Air Force and forces on the ground in North Sinai, the statement read.

A total of 30 “terrorists” were also killed in a raid on the Risan town of Central Sinai hours earlier, a security source told Sky News Arabia.

A total of 30 terrorists were killed in a raid in Central Sinai - Press photo

Member of the National Council for Counterterrorism, Fouad Allam, asserted the importance and necessity to track the perpetrators of the “catastrophic” terrorist attack. “The attack marks a big change in the mindset of terrorist elements … Terrorism in this case hits everyone (Muslims and Christians) to damage the state,” Allam says. “This is proof that the army and the police have managed to curb the terrorists who have turned from targeting the army and the police to targeting civilians. This is a security success, but also an extraordinary danger,” he adds.

Security forces have, since the attack, been deployed in vast areas in North Sinai, including mountainous terrains in search for the perpetrators.

They also intensified a state of security around the mosque, and reinforced ambushes with a number of police elements and modern equipment.

For its part, the Ministry of Justice ordered Director of the Department of Forensic Medicine, Hisham Abdel Hamid, to send a team of forensic doctors, assistants and technicians to North Sinai hospitals, where bodies of the victims were transferred.

“My whole family is dead,” says the mother of Eid Soliman, looking at her son who was shot in the back during the massacre. “Eid’s father was killed, and so were his brother and uncle, while performing Friday prayers.”

Sisi ordered a total of LE 200,000 ($11,300) and LE 50,000 to be dispensed to the family of each worshiper whose life has been claimed and each injured victim, respectively.

“A large number of masked men were shooting at the worshippers. They walked over me and I was shot in my arm and back,” says Soliman Gareer who was injured in the massacre, along with his nephew.

The bloody terrorist attack took the lives of roughly 22 percent of the village’s residents, who account for more than 2,111 people, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics’ (CAPMAS) 2016 report.

Click on the arrow to follow the timeline

Three-day state mourning was announced in Egypt on Friday; meanwhile, statements denouncing the deadly attack, condemnations and international acts of solidarity followed the deadly attack.

British Embassy in Cairo lowered its flag half-mast in mourning of the victims, and expressed the support of the kingdom and its people and their condemnation of the deadly attack in a Facebook post.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the United Nations Security Council condemned the attack in a Friday statement. “The Secretary-General calls for those responsible for today’s horrific attack to be swiftly brought to justice,” Guterres’ spokesperson, Farhan Haq, stated.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi of Italy, who currently holds the presidency of the Security Council, said in a press statement that the international body strongly condemned the “heinous and cowardly terrorist attack”. The Security Council also underlined “the need to bring perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice,” affirming that terrorism in all its forms threatens international peace and security.

Global search engine Google placed a black ribbon on its homepage in tribute to the perished lives.

The White House condemned the terrorist attack, calling on the international community to step up efforts to eliminate terrorism worldwide.

“There can be no tolerance for barbaric groups that claim to act in the name of a faith but attack houses of worship and murder the innocent and defenseless while at prayer,” read the statement, which was slated for the immediate release.

President Donald Trump also condemned the attack, which he described as “horrible and cowardly.”

Lights of Paris-based Eiffel Tower were turned off in solidarity with Egypt, to mourn the fallen victims of the Arish attack.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Parliamentary Assembly stood for a moment of silence for the lost souls. EU Ambassador in Cairo, Ivan Surkoš, denounced the attack. “I condemn this barbaric terrorist act against innocent civilians. EU stands side by side with Egypt in the fight against terrorism,” Surkoš tweeted on Friday.

The British Prime Minister Theresa May and Edwin Samuel, Britain’s spokesman for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA),denounced the attack saying that targeting innocent prayers is horrific and coward. “We are all against violence and terror anywhere”.

Canada’s CN tower has been lit up with colors of the Egyptian flag in tribute to the lost lives.

Sheikh Sabah IV Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, emir of Kuwait, sent condolences to Sisi, condemning these "criminal heinous acts", and voiced his "solidarity and sympathy" with Egypt. Bahrain's Foreign Ministry also slammed the terrorist attack, and stressed Bahrain's solidarity with Egypt in the fight against terrorism.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Fatah Movement and Interior Ministry Spokesperson Eyad al-Buzem announced their support to the Egyptian government and people against terrorism. They condemned Arish terror act and sent their condolences to the victims’ families.

The Swedish embassy in Cairo also condemned the terrorist attack and announced support to the Egyptian leadership in all procedures taken to deter extremists and terrorist groups.

The perpetrators of such deeds must be murdered or crucified, Grand Mufti of Egypt Shawki Allam said in response to the attack, contending that the murder of innocents is a disobedience to God’s orders.

“The society must get rid of all promoters of teachings and supporters of Sayyid Qutb and Hassan el-Banna, who are aiming at taking us back to jahiliyya days ('ignorance;' the state of affairs in Arabia before the advent of Islam) by blowing people up,” Minister of Endowments Khaled Mokhtar said in a statement, asserting that the ministry will take it upon itself to rehabilitate the mosque and its vicinity.

Bodies of the martyrs arrived early Saturday morning to the mosque, where thousands of people had prepared for the funerals of their martyred family and friends.

The horrific massacre has been considered one of the deadliest terrorist attacks, that hit the world over the past two decades:

Additional reporting by Khaled Mohamed



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