Egyptian forces kill 12, including eight Mexican tourists

Egyptian security forces accidentally shoot tourist convoy, killing 12, at least 8 of whom are Mexican, 10 others injured

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Four-wheel drive cars cross the Egyptian western desert and the Bahariya Oasis, southwest of Cairo in this picture taken May 15, 2015 - Archive

Updated Sep 15, 2015

Egyptian security forces have “accidentally killed” at least 12, including eight Mexicans, and injured 10 others after they wrongfully opened fire at a tourist convoy.

The convoy was hit whilst the forces were engaging with militants, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Interior.  

The Mexican injured said they were also attacked by helicopters and aircrafts, when they stopped for a short break during their safari.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto condemned the attack on his Twitter account, describing it as “a tragic incident” and demanding a full investigation.

"Mexico condemns these deeds against our citizens and has demanded an exhaustive investigation of what has occurred," he tweeted.

Mexican Ambassador Jorge Alvarez met with five Mexicans who were in stable condition in the hospital, Mexico's Foreign Ministry said.

The incident took place in Egypt’s western Oasis desert in the early hours of Monday, the ministry said in a statement.

"A joint force from the police and military, whilst chasing terrorist elements in the Oasis area of Farafra and Bahareya of the western desert tonight, accidentally engaged four, four-wheel drives belonging to a Mexican tourist group," the statement read.

An investigation is underway to know how and why the tourists entered an off-limits area in the Oasis.

The convoy appeared to be cruising in an off-limits area and was using unlicensed cars, which got easily confused with cars militants use, Egypt's Tourism Ministry spokesman said.

The safari trip was also unapproved and unsupervised, he said.

Egypt is currently battling an insurgency that mainly resides in the Sinai peninsula, called Wilayet Sinai.

The Wilayet Sinai militant group previously known as "Ansar Beit al Maqdis" announced in November 2014 its loyalty to ISIS and its leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. This group, which follows the track of ISIS, has adopted the most powerful attacks against the army and police.

On Sunday, a statement was released by Wilayet Sinai on Twitter saying it had thwarted an attack by the Egyptian military in the western desert.

A military aircraft crashed in the western desert previously in August, near the Libyan border while battling ISIS militants.

The insurgency has killed hundreds of soldiers and police and has started to attack Western targets.

Egyptian army had carried out several air strikes on ISIS targets in Libya in February, a day a video was released showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians.

Sinai has been engulfed in unprecedented violence since the overthrow of deposed president Mohamed Morsi, who belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood, in July 2013 after mass protests.

Morsi was Egypt’s first civilian democratically elected president. Hundreds of his supporters died of police brutality and thousands were thrown in jail and given politicised unfair sentencing.


TRTWorld and agencies