Ismailia (Egypt): “The whole thing started with a grenade thrown from the window, then masked militants rushed into the mosque, showering us with bullets, leaving dead bodies everywhere,” Mohamed Ali said, recalling the Friday attack on a mosque that killed 305 people in Egypt’s North Sinai.
It was a real inferno, said the 33-year-old man who suffered two bullet wounds in the legs, reports Xinhua news agency. He is now receiving medical treatment in Ismailia province by the Suez Canal, southwest of the terror-stricken North Sinai.
Ali, a father of four who works as salesman at a grocery in al-Rawda village where the attack took place, said he still could not believe that he survived the “heinous massacre”.
The militants attacked the mosque minutes after the preacher started his sermon, he said with a low fatigued voice as he grappled with pain.
“The terrorists threw bombs from the windows and doors of the mosque, besieging us inside and started to shoot randomly,” Ali said. “Bodies of the dead and panicked injured worshippers were everywhere, blood splattered across the mosque.”
Ali said he was praying on the frontline chairs near the preacher’s rostrum, which he used as a cover from the terrorist showers of gunshots.
“The pulpit did not protect me as I was injured with two bullets but at least it saved my life,” Ali said, looking at the central venous line placed into his arm.
When some worshippers attempted to get out of the mosque, he said, some masked men finished them off with rounds from their machine guns.
“It was horrible and chaotic… They showed no mercy, it was an act of genocide,” he said, tears rolling down his pale cheeks. “Three brothers from my neighborhood were killed in cold blood.”
On Saturday, the Egyptian general prosecutor announced that the death toll in the mosque attack had climbed to 305, including 27 children, while 128 others were wounded.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian military spokesman said air force jets hit a number of vehicles loaded with terrorists involved in the deadly attack.
In addition, the air forces targeted a number of hideouts containing weapons and ammunition that belong to the extremists, the spokesman added.
The airstrikes came hours after Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi vowed to respond fiercely against terrorists who carried out the attack.
No group has claimed responsibility for the bloodbath.
However, fingers are pointed at a Sinai-based group loyal to the Islamic State which has claimed most major terrorist operations in Egypt over the past few years and whose affiliates are currently facing a massive security crackdown in Syria and Iraq.
It is the first time a mosque was targeted by militants in Egypt.
The North Sinai province, a mostly desert area bordering Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip, has been experiencing waves of anti-security attacks that have killed hundreds of police and soldiers since an army-led ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in 2013.