Survivors give horrific accounts of Egypt attack

Published: Nov. 24, 2017 at 6:22 AM MST
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Survivors and Egypt’s top prosecutor are giving detailed accounts of Friday’s massacre at a mosque in northern Sinai.

They describe intense gunfire ringing out as the mosque was shaken by blasts, and children screaming as their parents were mowed down. A stampede occurred as people rushed for an exit, while others tried desperately to force their way out of windows.

They say the attackers arrived in five SUVs, took positions across from the mosque’s door and windows. Just as the imam was about to deliver his Friday sermon from atop the pulpit, they opened fire and tossed grenades at the estimated 500 worshippers inside.

When the violence finally stopped, more than 300 people were dead, including 27 children, and 128 injured.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but the extremist Islamic State group has repeatedly declared that it views Sufis as heretics and vowed to rid Sinai, and Egypt, of them. Millions of Egyptians practice Sufi rituals, like reciting poetry, dancing and singing as means to be closer to God.

It was Egypt’s deadliest attack by Islamic extremists in the country’s modern history, a grim milestone in a long-running fight against an insurgency led by a local affiliate of the Islamic State group.

President Donald Trump denounced the attack as "horrible" and "cowardly."