Egyptian security officials, quoted by state-run media, say 235 people have been killed by suspected militants in an attack on a packed mosque in the volatile northern Sinai Peninsula.

The government’s MENA news agency reports authorities said extremists targeted the al-Rawdah mosque in the town of Bir al-Abed, west of the provincial capital, el-Arish.

A man claiming to have been inside the mosque during the attack told Arab media that militants in four-wheel drive vehicles opened fire inside the house of worship following an explosion.

Eyewitnesses also say the militants fired on ambulances as emergency personnel tried to evacuate the wounded to hospitals.

Egyptian government warplanes reportedly attacked terrorist targets in the Sinai following the carnage at the mosque.

U.S. President Donald Trump reacted to the violence, calling it a “horrible and cowardly terrorist attack on innocent and defenseless worshippers.” The president added, “The world cannot tolerate terrorism, we must defeat them militarily and discredit the extremist ideology that forms the basis of their existence!” in a tweet sent from the U.S. state of Florida, where he is staying over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Neighboring Israel sent condolences to Egypt following the attack. Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty in 1979 and maintain close security cooperation.

Egypt’s security forces are battling an Islamic State insurgency, mostly in the northern part Sinai, where militants have killed hundreds of police and soldiers since fighting there intensified in the last three years.

Militants have mostly targeted security forces in their attacks, but have also tried to expand beyond the peninsula by hitting Egyptian Christian churches and pilgrims.

Egypt’s security forces are battling an Islamic State insurgency in north Sinai, where militants have killed hundreds of police and soldiers since fighting there intensified over the last three years.


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