a day after attackers killed hundreds of worshippers, on Saturday, Nov. Friday's assault was Egypt's deadliest attack by Islamic extremists in the country's modern history, a grim milestone in a long-running fight against an insurgency led by a local affiliate of the Islamic State group.(AP Photo)CAIRO (AP) — Elders of a village in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula where militants killed 305 people in a mosque had been warned by Islamic State operatives to stop collaborating with security forces and to suspend rituals associated with Islam's mystical Sufi movement, security officials and residents said.
The latest warning came as recently as a week ago, telling villagers in Al-Rawdah not to hold Sufi rituals on Nov.
Celebrations climax on Wednesday and Thursday, when millions of the Sufi movement's followers are expected to gather for rituals in mosques, shrines and squares across much of this majority Muslim country.
Militants from the IS affiliate have targeted Sufis before. In the January edition of an IS online magazine, a figure purporting to be a high-level official in the group's Sinai affiliate vowed to target Sufis, accusing them of idolatry and heretical "innovation" in religion, warning that the group will "not permit (their) presence" in Sinai or Egypt.
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Discarded shoes of victims remain outside Al-Rawda Mosque in Bir al-Abd northern Sinai, Egypt.
"They threatened him not to hold Sufi gatherings, and last week, they came on motorbikes and asked residents not to participate in Sufi rituals," Darwish said.
According to official figures, 305 people, including 27 children, were killed, with 128 wounded.
Security officials say IS militants infiltrated the area of Bir al-Abd and Al-Rawdah several months ago, opening a new front in the mostly desert region away from the main theater of operations in el-Arish and the towns of Rafah and Sheikh Zuwail to the east.
They have since waged deadly attacks on police and military forces, although the region has yet to attract the kind of heavy security seen elsewhere in the trouble spots of northern Sinai, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media."The expansion of the militants to Bir al-Abd shows that they can go anywhere," said Hassan Khalaf, a tribal leader in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia, where some of the wounded from Friday's attack were taken."There are security flaws. We need to wage an all-out offensive to crush them."___Associated Press writers Samy Magdy in Cairo and Maggie Michael in Ismailia, Egypt, contributed to this report.
CAIRO (AP) — Elders of a village in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula where militants killed 305 people in a mosque had been warned by Islamic State operatives to stop collaborating with security forces and to suspend rituals associated with Islam's mystical Sufi movement, security officials and residents said Sunday.
The warning, he told The Associated Press by telephone Sunday from the nearby town of Bir al-Abd, followed the detention three weeks ago by villagers of three suspected militants who were handed over to security forces.