Pope Francis, WCC, Coptic church denounce attack on mosque in Egypt's Sinai that kills 305

(REUTERS/ Mohamed Abd El Ghady)The inside of a Coptic church hit by a bomb during Palm Sunday.

Pope Francis and World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit   have condemned the "brutal" attack at a mosque in Egypt during which 305 were kllled on Nov. 24.

People fleeing an explosion were gunned down at a Sufi mosque in Egypt's North Sinai region, according to multiple news sources, in what appears to be the deadliest terror attack ever on Egyptian soil on Nov. 24.

Francis sent a telegram of condolence for the attack, saying he was "profoundly grieved to learn of the great loss of life caused by the terrorist attacks on Rawda mosque in North Sinai.

The Pope ​also ​ renewed "his firm condemnation of this wanton act of brutality directed at innocent civilians gathered in prayer".

The pontiff said he joins "all people of good will in imploring that hearts hardened by hatred will learn to renounce the way of violence that leads to such great suffering, and embrace the way of peace."

And in a letter to the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Dr Ahmad al-Tayyeb on Nov. 25, Tveit said, We pray that our Lord grants them comfort and healing," He wrote, "We condemn strongly this tragic attack against our Muslim brothers during prayer time, in a place of worship dedicated to peace and devotion."

Egyptian security forces were hunting for the attackers of a Sufi mosque during Friday prayers in the northern Sinai, a military source said, after the brutal and lethal assault.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said Egypt would respond to the attack on al Rawdah mosque with "brute force" CNN reported Nov. 24.

Some 109 others were injured, Egyptian State media reported.

It was the deadliest attack of its kind since an Islamist insurgency in the peninsula was stepped up in 2013, BBC reported.

No group has yet claimed the attack, but extremists affiliated with so-called Islamic State (IS) have been responsible for so many deadly attacks in the province.

They usually target security forces and Christian churches, and the bloody attack on a mosque associated with Sufi Muslims shocked Egypt.

The Coptic Orthodox Church, representing some 11 million Egyptian Christians was quick to denounce the attack.

A Coptic Orthodox Church spokesperson said the Church condemned "the flagrant attack that targeted worshipers in Deir Al-Abd's Al-Rawda mosque," Ahram reported.

"We pray to God that Egypt is preserved from such unprecedented brutal terrorism," the Christian statement read.

The attack triggered a new element into Egypt's struggle with extremists because most of the victims were Sufi Muslims, who practice a mystical form of Islam that the Islamic State and other Sunni extremist groups deem heretical, The New York Times reported.

The Times commented that it underscored the failure of President el-Sisi, who has justified his harsh crackdown on political freedom in the name of crushing Islamic militancy, to deliver on his promises of security.

The gunmen had set up "ambush" locations and opened fire on ambulances as they were transporting wounded worshipers from al-Rawdah toward al-Arish before the arrival of security services, eyewitnesses reported, according to CNN.

The mosque that was attacked is known for being the birthplace of Sheikh Eid al-Jariri, a Sufi cleric considered the founder of Sufism in the Sinai peninsula.

No-one had claimed responsibility for the attacks but IS has targeted Sufis in the past.

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