Blast hits mosque in northern Sinai Peninsula after Friday prayers, killing at least 235 and injuring scores more

The death toll from a bomb that went off outside a mosque in the city of Al-Arish in the northern Sinai Peninsula following Friday prayers has climbed to 235, according to official sources. 

At least 125 others were injured in the blast, which occurred in the city’s Al-Rawda neighborhood. 

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi plans to hold an emergency meeting of the government’s Security Committee later this afternoon, Egypt’s official Middle East News Agency quoted unnamed security sources as saying.

The meeting, the source added, would also be attended by the ministers of defense and interior and the head of Egypt’s General Intelligence Directorate. 

In a press statement, North Sinai security officials said ambulances had rushed to the site of the blast, which has since been entirely cordoned off. 

According to local security sources, who spoke anonymously due to the sensitivity of the issue, unidentified gunmen had opened fire on the area in the immediate wake of the bomb blast. 

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the deadly attack. 

The Egyptian presidency, meanwhile, has declared a three-day countrywide mourning period for the victims. 

The Sinai Peninsula has remained the epicenter of a low-intensity militant insurgency since mid-2013, when the army ousted and imprisoned Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, in a bloody military coup. 

The insurgency has been largely confined to the northern Sinai Peninsula, but sporadic attacks have also occurred on the Egyptian mainland, including capital Cairo.

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