Gunmen with explosives killed over 200 people at a Sufi mosque in the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. From Fox News:

The extremists launched an attack on the al-Rawdah mosque in the town of Bir al-Abd, some 25 miles from the North Sinai provincial capital of el-Arish, Egypt’s state news agency MENA reported. The attack appeared to be the latest by the area’s local Islamic State affiliate.

The Attack

From USA Today:

It was the largest single attack targeting Egyptian civilians and the first on a large mosque since the militants began their campaign of terror in 2013, the AP said.

Police said extemists in four off-road vehicles bombed the mosque and fired on worshippers during a sermon at the al-Rawdah mosque in the town of Bir al-Abd, located 25 miles from the regional capital of el-Arish.

The militants stopped people from escaping by blowing up cars and leaving the burning wrecks blocking the roads, police told the AP.

Egyptian Health Ministry spokesman Khalid Mujahid called it a terrorist attack. President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi said the country will have three days of mourning.

Responsibility?

No group has taken responsibility. The Islamic State has an active arm in the peninsula. The locals told the media that the mosque identifies with “Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam dubbed heretical by extremists.” The mosque is believed to be the “birthplace of Sheikh Eid al-Jairi, a Sufi cleric considered the founder of Sufism in the Sinai peninsula.”

From the BBC:

Islamist militants have been operating in northern Sinai for several years, mainly targeting security forces.

But this is the first time that worshippers inside a mosque have been targeted. The number of victims is unprecedented for an attack of this type.

Northern Sinai has been living under a media blackout over the past few years. No media organisations have been allowed to go there, including state-sponsored ones.

The frequency of attacks raises doubts about the effectiveness of military operations. While the army releases statements every now and then, claiming victory in some parts of Sinai, there seems to be no end in sight to the ongoing battle between the army and militants.