Militants attacked a crowded mosque during Friday prayers in the Sinai Peninsula, settling off explosives, spraying worshipers with gunfire, and killing at least 200 people, per the AP
has the death toll at 230, calling it the deadliest attack on civilians in the nation's modern history. The attack targeted a mosque frequented by Sufis, members of Islam's mystical movement, in the north Sinai town of Bir al-Abd. Islamic militants, including the local affiliate of the Islamic State group, consider Sufis heretics because of their less literal interpretations of the faith. The ISIS affiliate has been waging a stepped-up campaign of violence in northern Sinai for years and has claimed deadly bombings on churches in the capital, Cairo, and other cities, killing dozens of Christians. It also is believed to have been behind the 2016 downing of a Russian passenger jet that killed 226.
But this was the first major militant attack on a Muslim mosque, and the startling bloodshed eclipsed any past attacks of its kind, even dating back to a previous insurgency in the 1990s. The militants opened fire from four off-road vehicles on worshipers inside the mosque during the sermon, blocking off escape routes from the area by blowing up cars and leaving the burning wrecks blocking the roads. Victims including some 130 wounded were rushed to local hospitals, said police. No one claimed responsibility immediately following the attack, but ISIS has targeted Sufis several times in the area in the past, notably beheading a leading Sufi religious figure, the blind sheikh Suleiman Abu Heraz, last year and posting photos of the killing online. (Read more mosque stories.)