Philippines slams 'cowardly' attack on Sinai mosque
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines condemned the "cowardly" terrorist attack on a mosque in Egypt's North Sinai that killed at least 235 people and wounded 125 others.
Citing officials, the New York Times reported that this was "the deadliest terrorist attack in Egypt's modern history."
"The Philippines strongly condemns this cowardly act perpetrated against our Muslim brothers and sisters in Egypt," Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said in a statement emailed past midnight Saturday, November 25.
"Attacks on any place of worship are totally unacceptable," Cayetano said.
He added, "We join the people and government of Egypt and the rest of the world in mourning the loss of many innocent lives in the tragedy."
A bomb explosion ripped through the Rawda mosque roughly 40 kilometers west of the North Sinai capital of El-Arish before gunmen opened fire on the worshippers gathered for weekly Friday prayers.
Attacks on mosques 'rare'
The New York Times said: "The scale and ruthlessness of the assault, in an area racked by an Islamist insurgency, sent shock waves across the nation — not just for the number of deaths but also for the choice of target. Attacks on mosques are rare in Egypt, where the Islamic State has targeted Coptic Christian churches and pilgrims but avoided Muslim places of worship."
State media reported that Egypt's presidency declared 3 days of mourning following the attack.
The Philippine embassy in Cairo said in the statement that there are no Filipinos among the casualties, based on initial reports.
The embassy is already monitoring the incident. It also reminded the 5,183 registered Filipinos in the country about previous advisories warning them from going to the Northern Sinai Region "because of the high risk of terrorist attacks."
"The incident in the Northern Sinai today must reinforce the resolve not only of the various governments but also the major faiths around the world to work together and fight these forces of terror," Cayetano added.
Trump: 'Horrible, cowardly' attack
Other world leaders denounced this attack on a mosque in North Sinai.
US President Donald Trump condemned on Twitter the "horrible and cowardly terrorist attack on innocent and defenseless worshippers."
A furious Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi pledged to "respond with brutal force" to the attack.
"The army and police will avenge our martyrs and return security and stability with force in the coming short period," he added in a televised speech.
UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson condemned the "barbaric attack" in a post on Twitter, while his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian expressed his condolences to the families of victims of the "despicable" bloodshed.
Ahmed Abul Gheit, head of the Arab League, which is based in Cairo, condemned the "terrifying crime which again shows that Islam is innocent of those who follow extremist terrorist ideology," his spokesman said in a statement. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com