Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb leaves Al Rawdah mosque during the first Friday prayer after the attack in Bir Al-Abed, Egypt, December 1, 2017 (Photo: Reuters)
Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed Al-Tayyeb led a delegation of Azhar leaders and youth at Friday prayers at North Sinai's Al-Rawda Mosque, which was the site of the deadlist terror attack in recent Egyptian history last Friday, bringing a message of condolences and support from the country's highest religious institution to the families of the victims of the attack.
The prayers were attended by hundreds of worshippers and led by Egypt’s Grand Mufti Shawki Allam, the Minister of Religious Endowments Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa, North Sinai Governor Abdel-Fattah Harhour, as well as a number of Al-Azhar clerics and North Sinai officials.
In his address to worshippers, Al-Tayyed said he urges government to speedily put an end to the wicked cancer of terrorism.
After the prayers, Al-Tayyib consoled a woman who lost 12 sons, grandsons and other family members in the terror attack, describing the women who lost loved ones at-Al-Rawda as a "school in patience for all Egyptians," and offered to sponsor her on a Hajj pilgrimage.
Al-Rawda mosque, the site of last Friday’s devastating terrorist attack which killed 311 worshippers, including 27 children was reopened on Wednesday after repairs of damages sustained in the terrorist attack, the endowments ministry said.
Egyptian authorities tightened security measures at key locations surrounding the mosque on Friday morning to secure the worshippers and prayers.
Egypt's prosecutor-general had said in a statement shortly after the attack that according to eyewitnesses, 25 to 30 gunmen rode up to the mosque in five SUVs and began shooting at worshippers.
Most of the worshippers in the Mosque at the time of the attack were men.
The gunmen, some of whom wore masks, were flying the black flag of the Daesh terrorist group.
So far, however, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
On Wednesday, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi ordered the Egyptian army and police forces to restore stability and security in the Sinai Peninsula within three months using "utmost force."
The armed forces have launched several strikes against terrorist hideouts in North Sinai this week, including destroying three hideouts on Thursday, according to a military statement.
Hours after the massacre on Friday, El-Sisi said in a speech to the country that the military and police will “avenge the martyrs” and respond using the utmost force against terrorists to ensure stability and security.
The Egyptian army and police have been battling an Islamic militant insurgency in North Sinai in the past several years.
Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, which is affiliated with the terror group Daesh, has carried out deadly attacks against security forces in the governorate. Security forces have responded, killing numerous members of the terrorist group.