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Pope holds minute of silence for Egypt mosque attack victims

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Date of publication: 26 November, 2017

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The pope has led a minute of silence in St. Peter's Square for the victims of the deadly attack on a mosque in Egypt.

The pope has led a minute of silence in St. Peter's Square for the victims of the deadly attack on a mosque in Egypt.

Francis said following the traditional Angelus greeting on Sunday that the victims "were praying in that moment. We also pray in silence for them."

The pope said the attack on Friday "brought great pain," adding that he continued to pray for the dead and the wounded "and for the whole of that community, that has been so hard hit."

The pope previously expressed in a telegram his "strong condemnation" of the attack, which killed 305 people in the deadliest assault by Islamic extremists in modern Egyptian history.

The pontiff also asked for prayers for his six-day trip Myanmar and Bangladesh, for which he departs later Sunday.

Egypt was reeling on Sunday from the horrific militant attack on a mosque in northern Sinai that killed 305 people two days earlier - the deadliest assault by Islamic extremists in its modern history and a grim milestone in a long-running fight against the insurgency led by an Islamic State affiliate.

Survivors and Egypt's top prosecutor gave accounts of the massacre that unfolded as more than two dozen assailants, carrying a black IS banner, unleashed gunfire and explosions during Friday prayers at the Al-Rawdah Mosque in a sleepy village by the same name near the small town of Bir al-Abd.

The attackers arrived in five SUVs, took positions across from the mosque's door and windows, and just as the imam was about to deliver his sermon from the pulpit, they opened fire and tossed grenades at the estimated 500 people inside.

The worshippers screamed and cried out in pain. A stampede broke out in the rush toward a door leading to the washrooms.

Others tried desperately to force their way out of the windows.

Those who survived spoke of children screaming as they saw parents and siblings mowed down by gunfire or shredded by the blasts.

When the violence finally stopped, 305 people, including 27 children, had been killed and 128 wounded.

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