Update November 26, 2017: The death toll in Friday’s attack on the Sufi Rawda mosque in Bir al-Abd in Egypt’s North Sinai has now reached 305, with 128 injured. The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) continues to offer its condolences to victims and their families, condemn the attack, and call upon the Egyptian government to review its counter-terror policies.
The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) offers condolences to the victims and families of those killed in yesterday’s horrific attack on the Sufi Rawda mosque in Bir al-Abd in Egypt’s North Sinai. TIMEP resoundingly denounces this attack and the ongoing violence occurring in the country.
The mosque attack reportedly included heavy gunfire and the detonation of an explosive device, killing 235 and injuring 109, with no claim to responsibility having yet emerged. Jund al-Islam, a terror group that claimed attacks on the Islamic State in October of this year, and which is thought to be affiliated with al-Qaeda, distanced itself from the attack in a statement. Reports from independent media outlet Mada Masr indicate that Wilayat Sinai, the Islamic State’s “Sinai Province,” had warned the Sufi community to stop performing rituals at the site. Wilayat Sinai has previously attacked Sufi clerics in North Sinai province, beheading two Sufi sheikhs in November 2016.
“Although the approach and intensity of today’s massive attack goes beyond any immediate security capacity, it is a sharp break from terror trends in the number of casualties and the target,”said TIMEP Executive Director Dr. Nancy Okail. “This exemplifies the severity of Egypt’s deteriorating security crisis, the evolution of terror groups, and those groups’ enhanced lethal capacity, especially in northern Sinai.” The government’s scorched-earth tactics in North Sinai have restricted civil society, blocked citizens’ access to information, and weakened rule of law through indiscriminate measures such as curfews, emergency law, and restriction of media that exist alongside an increase in the frequency and coordination of attacks in this region.”
Yesterday’s attack brings the total attacks in 2017 to over 338, with at least 322 and 401 security forces and civilians killed in attacks.
To combat terror the Egyptian government must execute precise counter-terror operations that accurately target security threats as opposed to slash-and-burn measures that come at the expense of the livelihood of civilians and erode public trust in the government. TIMEP calls on Egypt’s international partners in the United States, the European Union, and the United Kingdom to support a comprehensive approach to Egypt’s security crisis that not only improves the effectiveness of targeted counter terror operations while equally prioritizing the roles of access to information, rule of law, and civil society.