iStock/Thinkstock(CAIRO) — The militants who carried out an attack during Friday prayers at a mosque in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula were carrying ISIS flags, the country’s chief prosecutor, Nabil Sadeq, said Saturday.
Sadeq also said the death toll has risen to 305 people, including 27 children — a dramatic increase from the previously announced 235 fatalities. Another 128 were injured, he added.
The attack was carried out by 25-30 militants who arrived at the mosque in five all-terrain vehicles, Sadeq said. They also torched seven cars belonging to the worshipers that were parked outside, he added.
Worshipers told Sadeq’s office that some of the attackers wore masks, but all wore military-like uniforms.
Emblazoned on the ISIS flags was the phrase, “There is no god but God. Muhammad is the messenger of God,” according to survivors of the attack.
An eyewitness described the perpetrators as having stationed themselves at the mosque’s three exits and deliberately attacking those who tried to escape the building, as well as passing vehicles, after first shooting some who were “kneeling in prayer.”
“The sight was horrific,” the witness, Ibrahim Shetewy, told ABC News in Arabic, adding, “We carried whoever we found alive and took them in pick-ups and private cars until more ambulances could come and help.”
Shetewy described the mosque in question as one frequented by travelers on their way in and out of the area. He said the building is “huge” and was lined with bodies and a large quantity of shell casings following the attack.
“There was a woman waiting outside for her husband and young child to finish praying; she came inside and found them dead next to each other,” Shetewy said.
He added that people are lined up at a local hospital to donate blood.
An additional local resident present at the Beir El-Abd hospital, which received victims in the aftermath, described the wounded arriving at a rate beyond the capacity of the hospital, which is between 25 to 30 miles away from the targeted mosque. The resident added that urgent cases are being sent to another hospital in Ismailia, almost 75 miles away.
The Egyptian Armed Forces posted to Facebook on Saturday a video of its aircraft targeting “terrorist spots” in northern Sinai.
“The law enforcement forces continued to pursue the elements responsible for the brutal terrorist incident targeting the worshipers in Northern Sinai, and based on confirmed intelligence … the Air Force has over the past hours eliminated a number of spots,” read the post. “The law enforcement forces, in cooperation with the air force, continue to carry out their operations and have established an intensive perimeter to scour the area around the event in search of the remaining terrorist elements.”
U.S. President Donald Trump commented on the attack via Twitter Friday morning, writing that it was a “horrible and cowardly terrorist attack on innocent and defenseless worshipers.”
“The world cannot tolerate terrorism, we must defeat them militarily and discredit the extremist ideology that forms the basis of their existence!” he continued.
Trump announced Friday afternoon that he planned to call Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to discuss the attack.
Two photographs taken after the attack each show more than a dozen bloodstained bodies lined up on the ground of a building as those who appear uninjured tend to them.
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