The residents of Bir al-Abd village in North Sinai received threats prior to Friday’s attack warning them of a possible assault, according to testimonies of village residents reported to the privately owned newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm.
Al-Rawda mosque attack, marking the weekly Friday prayers, killed 305 people and injured another 128 in what is considered the most deadly terrorist attack in Egypt’s modern history.
A number of media outlets managed to collect testimonies from survivors of the attack.
“The Friday sermon began […] The mosque can accommodate about 400 worshipers, and it was filled,” Samir al-Jariry, one of the survivors, told Al-Masry Al-Youm.
He adds that everyone in the mosque noticed the presence of three vehicles. “They were deployed at the mosque’s three doors […] with 15 armed men getting out from them,” Jariry said. He added that “four of them quickly went to the gates of the mosque and threw four grenades at the mosque’s four corners”.
From this moment, the militants opened gunfire at everybody inside the mosque causing panic and terror.
Ahmed Ghanem al-Jarirat, one of the village residents, continued describing the attack that lasted for 25 minutes.
Not only did the militants open fire on the prayers inside the mosque, but they also chased them “in the empty area surrounding it and shot each and every one of those who fell to the ground with a bullet in the head,” according to al-Jarirat in an interview to Al-Masry Al-Youm.
“After the terrorists had killed the worshipers, they went to the cars belonging to them in front of the mosque and set them on fire, after pouring gasoline on them. We called the ambulance which arrived within minutes after the gunmen had left the mosque,” he added.
Another testimony by Hassan Abo Jarir said that the village residents had received threats prior to the attack.
“We received warnings about 10 days ago from the gunmen not to [perform Sufi rituals], claiming that it is contrary to Islam,” said Abo Jarir to Al-Masry-Al-Youm.
MadaMasr shared more testimonies narrated by Magdy Rizk, a resident of Rawda village who is now hospitalized at Ismailia hospital with three bullets in his leg.
Rizk told MadaMasr that only seven minutes into the prayer’s rituals, 10 militants, or more, entered the mosque and opened fire at everyone for more than 20 minutes, nonstop.
“There was no way to talk to them,” said Rizk, “they didn’t come to talk. They came to kill because they think we are infidels. They say the mosque belongs to a Sufi order, but what I know is that it belongs to the Ministry of Endowments. Also, not all the village residents follow Sufism,” quoting Rizk to MadaMasr.
Furthermore, according to Al-Arabiya, the Islamic State (IS) published a warning, last year, via AlNabaa newspaper threatening the residents of a possible attack targeting al-Rawda mosque.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi announced a three-day nationwide mourning following the attack.