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    Abdallah Abdel Nasser, 14, receives medical treatment at Suez Canal University hospital in Ismailia, Egypt, Friday, Nov. 24, 2017, after he was in injured during an attack on a mosque

    EXCLUSIVE: Egypt Blast: 'They Competed With Each Other to Kill More People'

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    The death toll from Friday's explosion and gunfire in a mosque on the northern Sinai Peninsula in Egypt has climbed to 305, including 27 children. Sputnik talked to some of those who managed to survive the bloodbath.

    Fifteen-year-old Islam Muhammed said that he was at the Al Rawdah mosque when suspected terrorists burst into it last Friday and that his father and his younger brother Adam had gone to the mosque earlier that day.

    He said that he came with his other brother Ahmed, but could not approach his father because there were a lot of people inside and they had to take a place at the mosque's door. 

    "When the Imam was reading a sermon, we heard a loud pop in the street which we thought was a small explosion or a shot. Suddenly, masked men emerged near every door and window [of the mosque], starting to shoot Muslims who were inside," Islam Muhammed said.

    View of the Al Rawdah mosque, roughly 40 kilometres west of the North Sinai capital of El-Arish, after a gun and bombing attack. File photo
    © AFP 2019 / STRINGER
    View of the Al Rawdah mosque, roughly 40 kilometres west of the North Sinai capital of El-Arish, after a gun and bombing attack. File photo

    He said that some of the suspected terrorists entered the mosque in order to kill people with a shot in the head.

    "They competed with each other to kill more people. The rest of the militants continued standing at the door and shooting the backs of those who tried to escape," Islam Muhammed added.

    According to him, there were about twenty attackers and judging by the way they talked to each other, they were not Egyptians.

    He described them as "beefy men looking like special forces and all dressed in the same way: black trousers, gray T-shirts, black bulletproof vests and black armbands."

    "They acted in a very organized way. There was a leader who ordered the militants to take their positions and sometimes shouted at them. When many people were killed, he said: 'This is a punishment for insulting the Mujahideen and ignoring their orders,'" Islam Muhammed said, adding that the militants used abusive and obscene words that he said "are out of line with the image of a Muslim.'

    He said that he managed to survive after he managed to quickly fall on the floor the moment one of the attackers shot at him. Then Islam Muhammed grabbed his brother's hand and rushed from the mosque.

    "We saw the [suspected] terrorists killing those who tried to escape the mosque.  We took cover in an ablution room where we sat for half an hour till the shots stopped. Then we went to look for our father. When we entered the mosque, we saw our mother was sitting on the floor beside our father and crying. He was shot in legs and the head," he said.

    Islam Muhammed added that his three-year-old brother was brought home after being injured, where his mother received the news about the terrorist attack on the mosque.

    READ MORE: Explosion Rocks Mosque in Egypt's Northern Sinai, Killing Hundreds (PHOTO)

    Another witness of these horrendous events, a resident of Bir al-Abd village, told Sputnik on condition of anonymity that he lives close to the mosque and that on Friday, he saw five cars with thirty militants approach Al Rawdah. He said that some of them entered the mosque, while others stood outside and shot those who tried to escape.

    "When we heard the first shots, we decided that the Egyptian army drills are being held in the area adjacent to the mosque.   Nobody could even imagine that someone had attacked the mosque during a prayer," the witness said.

    He added that when the militants left the mosque, they detonated four hand grenades nearby, pushed seven hostages into the car and left after the sounds of approaching military aircraft could be heard.

    "In all, the attack lasted between twenty and thirty minutes," the witness said, adding that his uncle was at the mosque at the time of the attack.

    He said that the terrorists carried out different tasks during the attack, with some of them shooting those who moved or spoke. According to him, many were killed for saying the Shahadah, the Muslim declaration of belief in the oneness of God and in Muhammad as his final prophet.

    "There is a death toll in each and every family of our village. One family lost 22 men, with the only survivors being women and a twelve-year-old boy who was taken to hospital," the witness concluded.

    While the country's authorities have declared a three-day mourning period after the deadly mosque attack, Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi pledged to respond with "brutal force" against militants, adding that "the army and police will avenge our martyrs and return security and stability with force in the coming short period."

    READ MORE: Egyptian Military Prevents Car-Bomb Attack in North Sinai

    On Sunday, the Al Arabiya broadcaster cited Egyptian army officials as saying that Egyptian military aircraft had struck the terrorists' positions in northern Sinai, destroying the vehicles of terrorists and their weapons depots.

    Related:

    Egypt Mosque Attackers Carried Daesh Flag, Death Toll Reaches 305 - Prosecutor
    Egyptian Drones Kill 15 Militants Involved in Attack in Sinai Mosque - Reports
    Explosion Rocks Mosque in Egypt's Northern Sinai, Killing Hundreds (PHOTO)
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