From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The death toll in a bomb attack on a packed mosque in Egypt’s restive North Sinai province has risen to 235.
Gunmen attacked and set off a bomb, killing at least 235 people in one of the country’s deadliest siege in recent memory, state media reported.
A bomb explosion ripped through the Rawda mosque roughly 40 kilometers west of the North Sinai capital of El-Arish before gunmen opened fire on the worshippers gathered for weekly Friday prayers, officials said.
Witnesses said 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.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned in strong terms the attacks.
President Buhari described the attacks as heartless and dastardly in his condolence to the government and people of Egypt.
He said the killing of innocent worshippers, further reinforces the position that terrorism has no relationship or respect for any religion, and should be visited with the full wrath of the law.
In a statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, he reiterated that the workable panacea to such mindless and irresponsible attacks on citizens would be a global joint action that continually shares intelligence, simulates scenarios and regularly updates on both local and international threats.
President Buhari prayed that the almighty God will receive the souls of the departed, and comfort the families of those directly affected.