Mexico’s FM to visit Egypt after eight tourists killed

Mexican foreign minister travels to Egypt, after several Mexican tourists were accidentally killed by Egyptian security forces in Western Oasis desert

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Claudia Ruiz Massieu, Minister of Foreign Affairs, speaks with Eduardo Sanchez, Mexico's government spokesman, during a news conference before travelling to Egypt, in Mexico City, September 14, 2015.

Updated Mar 25, 2016

Mexican Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu to travel to Cairo on Tuesday after Egyptian security forces accidentally killed at least eight Mexican tourists in Egypt’s Farafra Oasis.

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

The Mexicans injured in the incident 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.

Claudia Ruiz Massieu will assist the victims personally, around 8 other Mexican tourists are currently receiving needed medical care in Cairo.

Victim’s relatives in Guadalajara will fly with Massieu to Cairo, to closely monitor the status of their loved ones. Massieu announced her plan to travel to Cairo on twitter, saying "after giving press conference, tonight I will travel to Egypt with victim's relatives".

Relatives of Mexicans injured and killed in an incident in Egypt, leave after a meeting with Jalisco state governor Aristoteles Sandoval, in Guadalajara, Mexico, September 14, 2015

Egyptian government called for an urgent investigation for the incident, calling it a "deplorable event.".

Mexican president also confirmed that the Egyptian prime minister will shadow the progress of the investigation himself.

Washington closely monitoring the investigation

The US state department spokesman John Kirby said the US embassy in Cairo is closely monitoring the situation, and the progress of the investigation.

Kirby could not comment or confirm the claims that one of the Mexican tourists killed, is actually an American citizen.

Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abo Zaid said the Mexican government or any other foreign body will not take part in the very anticipated investigation, however all results will be immediately reported to the Mexican side.

‘We weren’t off-limits’

While the Egyptian government claims the tourist convoy of four-wheel drive vehicles were roaming in a restricted off-limits area in the Wahat (Oasis) area, an Egyptian tour guide who happened to be driving one of the cars, said the area in fact was not off limits.

Farouk Nagy, one of the car drivers who survived the attack, told a local Egyptian TV channel that the four vehicles took a short snack break only 1 km off-road, because one of the passengers was dizzy and needed food.

Nagy says the area was never restricted and that they didn’t break any laws. Adding that the road has no cautionary signs or anything that could possibly help safari-goers.

“We were attacked by helicopters and aircrafts, and also security forces on the ground”, Nagy said. He is currently recovering from shrapnel wounds in his legs.

Egyptian police personnel stand guard outside Dar Al Fouad Hospital, where injured tourists who were mistakenly targeted in a military operation "chasing terrorist elements"; are recovering, in Cairo, Egypt, September 14, 2015.

Such incident is believed to be highly harmful to Egypt’s already suffering safety crisis, which reflects badly on tourism levels. Egypt used to rely heavily on revenue generated from the tourism industry, however the security vacuum in the last few years cost Egypt millions.

Egypt is currently battling militant group called Wilayet Sinai that mainly resides in the Sinai peninsula.

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 carried out the most powerful attacks against the army and police.

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

TRTWorld and agencies