Mosque attack condemned, prayers offered

Pope Francis says he is “profoundly grieved to learn of the great loss of life caused by the terrorist attacks on the Rawda mosque in north Sinai.”

His distress was echoed by international religious and political leaders.

They included the Archbishop of Canterbury, President Donald Trump, the Turkish Foreign Ministry and French President Emmanuel Macron.

At least 109 people were wounded and 235 people died in the attack which plunged the nation into mourning.

The Pope’s message was sent to Egypt by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

It expressed Francis’s solidarity with the Egyptian people and commended the victims to God’s mercy.

Francis condemned the “wanton act of brutality directed at innocent civilians gathered in prayer”.

He also said he “joins all people of good will in imploring that hearts hardened by hatred will learn to renounce the way of violence that leads to such great suffering, and embrace the way of peace.”

This is the first major militant attack on a mosque, although Christian churches in Egypt have suffered murderous attacks during the past year.

Egyptian state news agency, MENA, says Friday’s attack was the deadliest extremists have carried out in Egypt.

Most of those at the mosque were Sufis, who are members of Islam’s mystical movement.

Although nobody has claimed responsibility for Friday’s massacre, Islamic militants are suspected as being behind it since they often target Sufis.

They justify their attacks by saying Sufis are heretical because of their less literal interpretation of Islam.

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi says the attack “will not go unpunished” and Egypt will persevere with its war on terrorism.

The suffering of the victims was not in vain, he added, and will only “add to our insistence” to combat extremists.

Security measures throughout Egypt are currently being reviewed.

Over the past year, militants have targeted people at prayer in Egypt.

They have carried out deadly bombings on churches in Cairo and other cities, killing dozens of Christians.

The Christian population in northern Sinai has decreased from about 5,000 in 2011 to fewer than 1,000, according to priests and residents.


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