The death toll in a bomb attack in a packed mosque set up by gunmen in Egypt’s restive North Sinai province has risen to 235.
The bomb explosion ripped through the Rawda mosque roughly 40 kilometres west of the North Sinai capital of El-Arish before gunmen opened fire on the worshippers gathered for weekly Friday prayers, officials said.
According to eye witness reports, the assailants had surrounded the mosque with all-terrain vehicles then planted a bomb outside.
The gunmen then mowed down the panicked worshippers as they attempted to flee and used the congregants’ vehicles they had set alight to block routes to the mosque.
State television reported at least 184 people were killed and 125 wounded in the attack, which is unprecedented in a four-year insurgency by Islamist extremist groups.
Egypt’s presidency declared three days of mourning, state television reported, as President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met his security ministers to follow developments.
Ahmed Abul Gheit, head of the Arab League which is based in Cairo, condemned the “terrifying crime which again shows that Islam is innocent of those who follow extremist terrorist ideology,” his spokesman said in a statement.