Gunman kills 20 at mosque near Sudanese capital

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The Independent Online

A gunman opened fire in a mosque during prayers last night, killing 20 people and wounding 40, and then was shot to death by police, state television reported.

A gunman opened fire in a mosque during prayers last night, killing 20 people and wounding 40, and then was shot to death by police, state television reported.

The attacker, identified as a member of an Islamic militant group called Takfir wal Hijra, walked into the mosque in the village of Garaffa, outside Omdurman, the twin city of the capital Khartoum, and began firing an automatic rifle, the television said.

Police rushed to the al-Sunna al-Mohammediyya Mosque and shot the gunman after he refused to surrender, the report said. Twenty worshippers were killed and 40 others wounded in the gunman's attack.

Egypt's Middle East News Agency reported that a crowd gathered outside Omdurman University Hospital, where the wounded were admitted, and demanded revenge against Takfir wal Hijra.

Police could not be reached for further information on the shooting.

The television identified the gunman as Abbas al-Baqer Abbas, a Takfir wal Hijra member from the central region of el-Gezira.

The motive for the attack was not immediately known, but Takfir wal Hijra has been implicated in past attacks on rival Muslim groups in Sudan. In 1994, gunmen from the group killed 16 in an attack on a mosque. Three years later, another mosque attack killed two worshippers.

The group has also clashed with police in the past, including a 1996 gunbattle that left eight dead.

Takfir al Hijra, whose name literally means "Repentance and Flight," advocates isolation from the sinful world. The name was used in Egypt in the early 1970s by a violent offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. Since then the name has periodically been used by groups in other Arab countries.

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