Egypt’s military have begun a manhunt for the attackers of a Sufi mosque in northern Sinai that killed at least 235 people and left 109 injured.
President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has sworn to respond to the attack on al Rawdah mosque with “brute force” in a televised speech after meeting with security officials.
“We will respond to this act with brute force against these terrorists,” Sisi said.
“This terrorist act will strengthen our resolve, steadfastness and will to stand up to, resist and battle against terrorism.”
Witnesses said the attack began when an explosion went off in a building next to the mosque and gunmen fired at worshippers as they fled the scene.
27-year-old Ashraf Abu Salem said the gunmen then went inside the mosque and fired at people.
He said the bodies looked as though people had been shot in the back.
Eyewitnesses reported the gunmen had set up “ambush” locations, opening fire on ambulances as they transported wounded worshippers to al-Arish before the arrival of security services.
Photos from inside the mosque showed bodies lined up in rows on the carpet.
Blasts from improvised explosive devices caused significant damage to the mosque.
No one has claimed responsibility, but bore the hallmarks of an ISIS attack.
The mosque is known as the birthplace of an important Sufi cleric.
The presidency has declared three days of national mourning.
Sisi met with several of top ministers, according to the Ministry of Interior Facebook page.
A spokesman said he was confident that Egypt is capable of winning the war against terrorism and eradicating it.
Sisi has expressed concern that ISIS militants would flee Iraq and Syria and come to Egypt.
World leaders have condemned the attack.
US President Donald Trump called it a “horrible and cowardly terrorist attack on innocent and defenseless” worshippers in Egypt.
“The world cannot tolerate terrorism, we must defeat them militarily and discredit the extremist ideology that forms the basis of their existence,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
The White House also said in a statement that “the international community must continue to strengthen its efforts to defeat terrorist groups that threaten the United States and our partners and we must collectively discredit the extremist ideology that forms the basis of their existence.”
UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he was deeply saddened by the “abhorrent attack.”
“My sincere condolences to all those affected by such a barbaric act,” he tweeted.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron also offered their condolences on Twitter.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called “for those responsible for today’s horrific attack to be swiftly brought to justice.”