The death toll of the devastating attack on an Egyptian mosque on Friday has now risen over the 300 mark sending shock throughout the nation and the world. The bombing and gunfire attack marks the deadliest attack in Egypt’s modern history as 305 have been confirmed dead with 27 of those children whilst an additional 128 are said to be wounded.
During a service at the al Rawdah mosque in Bir al Abed a bomb was detonated before approximately 40 militants stormed the building and opened fire as hundreds fled in an attempt to avoid the attack.
According to the public prosecutor’s office the men were carrying flags representing the Islamic State. The Egyptian authorities have had a running battle against a stubborn Islamic State group in Egypt’s Sinai region.
Witnesses have said that the militants had 40 men set up around the site and whilst many stormed the building to open fire, some remained outside.
Those gunmen who remained outside were seen picking off anyone who had managed to escape and even opened fire on the ambulances as well. It was initially said that there were a total of 235 deaths with 109 wounded before the number was confirmed to be higher yesterday.
The attack has send shockwaves throughout the world with the Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull sending his condolences and highlighting his willingness to help eliminate the future of terrorist organisations and acts.
Mr Turnbull said, “We are resolute in our determination to defeat Islamist terrorism and keep Australians safe” in response to the attack.
In a joint statement by opposition leader Bill Shorten and Labor’s foreign affairs minister Penny Wong they stated their passion to maintain freedom of speech and a united world saying, “an attack on any place of religion is an attack on freedom”
The mosque attack could mark a change in tactics for the Sinai militants who have predominantly targeted troops, police and Christian churches. The supposed change could be due to the number of ‘Sufis’ worshipping at the attacked mosque who admire shrines and saints seen as the equivalent of worshipping gods to the Islamists.
The Sinai division of the Islamic state is one of the few remaining following the failure of its caliphate in Syria and Iraq through defeat by US-backed military operations. National security has long been a key pillar behind the public support of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and he has vowed the attack will “not go unpunished”.
He called an emergency meeting with the defence, its ministers and intelligence chief immediately following the attack.
The location of the attack in North Sinai, in northern Egypt, has long been a challenge for military and Egyptian security forces because of the smuggling that occurs in the region. The attack on the region further challenges defences forces of the nation to maintain the security levels demanded and employed by Sisi.
The continued safety and security of the nation may influence the results at the election set to be early next year in which Sisi is expected to run for another 4-year term.