Egypt Mosque Attack Death Toll Rises to 305, Including 27 Children

Egypt Mosque Attack Death Toll Rises to 305, Including 27 Children

 The death toll from an attack on a mosque in Egypt's Sinai rose to 305 including 27 children, the state prosecution said Saturday in a statement detailing the gruesome massacre.

It said there were between 25 and 30 attackers with long hair and beards, dressed in camouflage and flying a black banner with the Muslim profession of faith on it, which could be a description of the Islamic State group's flag.

They surrounded the mosque and opened fire on the worshippers on Friday, it said.

The attackers had arrived in five all-terrain vehicles and later set fire to seven cars belonging to the worshippers.

The statement said witnesses recounted hearing gunshots and explosions before some of the assailants entered the mosque.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

The Islamic State group's Egypt branch has killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers, and also civilians accused of working with the authorities, in attacks in the north of the Sinai Peninsula.

They have also targeted followers of the mystical Sufi branch of Sunni Islam as well as Christians.

The victims of Friday's attack included civilians and conscripts praying at the mosque.

A tribal leader and head of a Bedouin militia that fights ISIS told AFP that the mosque is known as a place of gathering for Sufis.

The Islamic State group shares the puritan Salafi view of Sufis as heretics for seeking the intercession of saints.

The group has killed more than 100 Christians in church bombings and shootings in Sinai and other parts of Egypt, forcing many to flee the peninsula.

The jihadists have since increasingly turned to civilian targets, attacking not only Christians and Sufis but also Bedouin Sinai inhabitants accused of working with the army.

Aside from ISIS, Egypt also faces a threat from Al-Qaeda-aligned militants who operate out of neighboring Libya.

A group calling itself Ansar al-Islam -- Supporters of Islam in Arabic -- claimed an October ambush in Egypt's Western Desert that killed at least 16 policemen.

Many of those killed belonged to the interior ministry's secretive National Security Service.