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Deadly blast strikes mosque in Egypt’s Sinai

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At least 235 people have been killed in a bomb and gun attack on a mosque in Egypt’s northern Sinai Peninsula, according to state media.

The attack took place in the al-Rawda village, west of el-Arish, shortly after Friday prayers.

Egyptian state media MENA provided the death toll, citing an official security source. It also said that 120 people were wounded in the attack.

Local media reports said that attackers planted explosives and then opened fire on worshippers while the sermon was under way.

Egypt has for years been battling an armed movement in the rugged and thinly populated Sinai Peninsula, which has gained pace since the military overthrew democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in mid-2013.

In 2014, following a suicide bombing that left 31 soldiers killed, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi declared a state of emergency in the peninsula, describing it as a “nesting ground for terrorism and terrorists”.

Local media also reported the closure of the Arish-Rafah road, further east.

The attack comes a day before the Rafah border crossing, the main gateway for Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip to the outside world, was due to open for a three-day period.

The border opened briefly earlier this week.

[Source: Al Jazeera]
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