Egypt's security forces are battling an Islamic State insurgency in north Sinai, where militants have killed hundreds of police and soldiers since fighting there intensified over the last three years. The attack took place as worshipers were listening to a sermon during prayers on the Islamic Sabbath.
Arabiya news channel and some local sources said some of the worshippers were Sufis, whom groups such as ISIS consider targets because they revere saints and shrines, which for Islamists is tantamount to idolatry. They also blocked off escape routes from the area by blowing up cars and leaving the burning wrecks blocking the roads, three police officers on the scene said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press. The affiliate also is believed to have been behind the 2016 downing of a Russian passenger jet that killed 226 people.
MENA also said a state of emergency had been declared in Sinai.
The group has killed more than 100 Christians in church bombings and shootings in Sinai and other parts of Egypt, forcing many to flee the peninsula. In May, gunmen attacked a Coptic group travelling to a monastery in southern Egypt, killing 29.
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