Egyptian media say suspected militants have killed more than 230 people in an attack on a mosque in the northern Sinai Peninsula.
Egypt’s state-operated news agency reported that officials said the attack took place in a town west of the provincial capital, el-Arish.
The officials said extremists targeted the al-Rawdah mosque during Friday prayers.
Arab media reported that militants in four-wheel-drive vehicles opened fire on people inside the mosque after an explosion. Media reports said this information came from a man who claimed he was inside the religious center at the time of the attack.
Eyewitnesses said the militants fired on emergency rescue vehicles as workers tried to take the wounded to hospitals.
Egyptian military airplanes reportedly attacked suspected terrorist targets in the Sinai following the mosque attack.
The Egyptian government has declared three days of mourning.
Shortly after the attack, Israel expressed its condolences to Egypt. Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty in 1979 and have cooperated closely on security issues since then.
In the United States, President Donald Trump denounced the attack. He said, “The world cannot tolerate terrorism, we must defeat them militarily and discredit the extremist ideology that forms the basis of their existence!” Trump’s comments appeared in a statement on Twitter.
Egypt's security forces have been fighting supporters of the self-declared Islamic State group, mostly in the northern Sinai. Militants have killed hundreds of police officers and soldiers since fighting there intensified three years ago.
In July, more than 20 soldiers were killed when vehicles carrying bombs exploded at two military positions in the Sinai. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for those attacks.
The militants have also carried out attacks beyond the Sinai, striking Christian religious centers and civilians in other parts of Egypt. In May, gunmen killed 29 people in an attack on a Coptic Christian group as it was traveling by bus to a remote desert monastery.
I’m Jonathan Evans.
Isabela Cocli reported this story for VOANews. George Grow adapted her report for Learning English, with additional information from the Reuter news agency. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
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Words in This Story
condolence – n. sympathy
tolerate – v. to accept or permit
beyond – adj. outside; away from
monastery – n. a home or center for religious workers
remote - adj. far from someone or something