Middle East, War and Conflict

Tourists Killed in Egyptian Air Raid

Photo via reuters.com

On Monday, the authorities said that the Egyptian Army aircraft had been in search of militants in the desert and bombed a convoy of Mexican tourists mistakenly, killing 12 and injuring 10. According to survivors, helicopters and a plane bombed their group. Egyptian security sources elaborated that additional forces on the ground fired on the members of the tourist convoy when they attempted to flee. The attack in the Western Desert was described by the interior ministry of Egypt as an accident. Enrique Pena Nieto, the President of Mexico said that Sunday’s incident killed two Mexicans. However, judicial sources and Egyptian security later said that four Egyptians and eight Mexicans had been killed.

They further added that eight Mexicans and two Egyptians had been injured. A Reiki healer was said to be among the dead and his sister in Mexico said that a relative of the tour guide of the group had sent her a list mentioning the eight Mexicans who died. On Sunday, the group of 22 who were traveling in four 4×4 vehicles decided to stop near the popular tourist site Bahariya Oasis in the Western Desert for a barbecue and parked off-road. They were shelled from above by the army, as per security sources. The Mexican government had demanded an exhaustive and swift investigation into the event from its Egyptian counterpart.

Jorge Alvarez, the Mexican ambassador in Egypt said that the condition of the surviving six Mexicans was stable. He also added that information was being collected by the government about six other Mexicans who were part of the group of 14 and are still unaccounted for. The two dead Mexicans were identified by Alvarez as Maria de Lourdes Fernandez Rubio and Luis Barajas Fernandez. John Kirby, the US State Department spokesperson said in Washington that an American may have also been wounded in the incident.

He said that the appropriate inquiries were being made by an embassy in Cairo with the local police. Pena Nieto said that a probe would be spearheaded by the Egyptian prime minister himself. When he visited the hospital, Alvarez was told by the survivors that an aircraft and some helicopters had bombed them when they stopped for a break. The tourist reached Egypt on 11th September. The Mexican government was given assurance by Yasser Shaban, the Egyptian ambassador in Mexico that the incident was being taken seriously by the government and they would find out exactly what occurred.

Egpyt is currently dealing with insurgency that rose rapidly in mid-2013 when Mohammed Mursi, the Islamic President from the Muslim Brotherhood had been ousted by the military. The Egyptian affiliate of the Islamic State mounted this insurgency and hundreds of police and soldiers have been killed because of it. Western targets are also being attacked. Militants are being chased in the vast desert of the country by a joint force from the Egyptian military and police and that is how the convoy of tourists was mistaken as a group of militants who were being pursued. 

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