Egypt: mosque attack death toll rises to 184

184 killed and at least 85 injured in a gun and bomb attack which took place in Egypt's north Sinai as Friday prayers were coming to an end

People outside the mosque that was attacked in the northern city of Arish, Sinai Peninsula (Photo: STR/EPA)
People outside the mosque that was attacked in the northern city of Arish, Sinai Peninsula (Photo: STR/EPA)

At least 184 people have been killed and several more injured in a bomb and gun attack in a mosque in Egypt’s north Sinai, state television has reported.

Over 50 ambulances ferried casualties from the scene to nearby hospitals after the attack on al-Rawdah mosque in Bir al-Abed, west of Arish city.

At least 85 people were injured, reported the Mena news agency. The death toll rose repeatedly on Friday afternoon as more details emerged.

The bomb exploded in the mosque as Friday prayers were coming to a close, then militants in four off-road vehicles approached and opened fire on worshippers, according to a military source.

 Investigation teams from the army and police were dispersed in the area and were “chasing down the perpetrators”.

No group claimed responsibility for the assault, but it was the deadliest yet in a region where, for the last three years, Egyptian security forces have battled an Islamic State insurgency that has killed hundreds of police and soldiers.

A witness said by phone that he ran to towards the scene after hearing a blast and shots being fired. People rushed to find their relatives, as bodies wrapped in cloth were laid out on the road, the witness said.

One resident whose relatives were at the scene told Reuters that the attackers shot at people as they left the mosque, and also at the ambulances.

People claimed that some of the worshippers were Sufis, who are regarded by hard-line Islamists as apostates because they revere saints and shrines.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, a former armed forces commander who presents himself as a bulwark against Islamist militants in the region, convened an emergency security meeting after the attack, state television said.

Militant attacks have mostly targeted security forces since bloodshed in the Sinai worsened after Sisi led the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013.

But jihadis have also targeted Sinai tribes that are working with the armed forces, branding them traitors for their cooperation.

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