Egyptian army conscripts stand guard outside the Suez Canal University hospital in the eastern port city of Ismailia on November 25, 2017, where the victims of a bomb and gun assault on the North Sinai Rawda mosque that took place the day before are receiving treatment. (AFP PHOTO / MOHAMED EL-SHAHED)
The funerals of some of those killed were due to be held on Saturday.
World leaders voiced outrage at the attack. US President Donald Trump denounced on Twitter the “horrible and cowardly terrorist attack on innocent and defenseless worshipers.”
Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Cairo’s Al-Azhar, Egypt’s highest institution of Sunni Islam, condemned “in the strongest terms this barbaric terrorist attack.”
IS targeting of Sufis
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bloodshed.
The Egypt branch of IS has killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers, and also civilians accused of working with the authorities, in attacks in the north of the Sinai peninsula.
They have also targeted followers of the mystical Sufi branch of Sunni Islam as well as Christians.
A tribal leader and head of a Bedouin militia that fights IS told AFP that the mosque is known as a place where Sufis gather.
IS views Sufis as heretics for seeking the intercession of saints.
The terrorist group has also killed more than 100 Christians in church bombings and shootings in Sinai and other parts of Egypt, forcing many to flee the peninsula.
The military has struggled to quell the jihadists who pledged allegiance to IS in November 2014.
The Rawda mosque, roughly 40 kilometers west of el-Arish in Egypt’s Sinai, after a gun and bombing terror attack, on November 24, 2017. (AFP/Stringer)
The jihadists have since increasingly turned to civilian targets, attacking not only Christians and Sufis but also Bedouin Sinai inhabitants accused of working with the army.
The group also claimed the bombing of a Russian plane that killed all 224 people on board after takeoff from the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on October 31, 2015.
Aside from IS, Egypt also faces a threat from Al-Qaeda-aligned jihadists who operate out of neighboring Libya.
A group calling itself Ansar al-Islam — Supporters of Islam in Arabic — claimed an October ambush in Egypt’s Western Desert that killed at least 16 policemen.
The military later conducted air strikes on the attackers, killing their leader.