CAIRO — Two Mexicans were killed and five more seriously wounded when Egyptian security forces fired upon a tourist group they mistook for militants, CNN, the Guardian and other news media reported.
The attack Sunday Sept. 13 killed a total of 12 people and injured a total of 10 more.
Members of Egypt’s military and police were chasing “terrorist elements” in the country’s vast Western Desert when they came upon the tourists. The attack happened within a so-called restricted area.
The tourist group reportedly was in cars that were not authorized for tours, and they did not have permits for the trip, according to news agency reports citing Egypt’s tourism ministry.
An investigation is ongoing.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto mourned the loss of his country’s citizens in posts to Twitter.
“Mexico condemns these acts against our citizens and has demanded that the Egyptian government conduct an exhaustive investigation of what happened,” he said.
Two of those killed and at least five of those injured were Mexican nationals, Mexico’s foreign ministry said. But the government is still in the process of identifying all of the victims.
The country’s ambassador to Egypt, Jorge Alvarez Fuentes, spoke to five of the Mexicans who were hospitalized, according to a statement.
The Mexican ambassador to Egypt is aiding the country’s injured citizens who are hospitalized, Peña Nieto said. He has called for the embassy to increase staff to help victims and their families.
The Egyptian interior ministry said a joint policy and military force was “chasing terrorist elements” in the area when it “accidentally engaged four four-wheel drives belonging to a Mexican tourist group”.
It said 12 had been killed and 10 injured in the shooting, understood to have taken place at the Bahariya oasis around 4 p.m. Sunday, local time.
An Egyptian human rights lawyer, Amr Imam, told the Guardian that one his relatives, Awad Fathi, was among six Egyptians killed in the convoy.
He said Fathi, 37, was a manager and tour guide operator at the Kisr al-Buwati Hotel in the Bahariya oasis, a popular tourist stop around 370 km south of Cairo.
A spokesman for the Egyptian tourism ministry said the tour group did not have the correct permits to be in the area and that their presence was “illegal”.
“A working group has been formed to examine the causes and circumstances of the incident as well as the justification for the presence of a tourist group in a region to which access is prohibited,” the interior ministry said in a statement.
Sources: CNN, The Guardian
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