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Sunday, 17 November 2019

Seven Mexicans among 12 people killed mistakenly by Egyptian security forces

12 people were killed and 10 injured when Egyptian security forces attacked a tour group in the desert, mistaking them for terrorists

Hatem Maher , Hana Afifi , Zeinab El-Gundy , Tuesday 15 Sep 2015
Egypt
A vehicle crosses the sand dunes of Egypt's western desert near the border with Libya (File photo: Reuters)
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Egyptian security forces killed 12 Egyptian and Mexican members of a tour group in the Western Desert after mistaking them for terrorists, the interior ministry said on Monday.

Ten people were injured in the attack, the interior ministry said without revealing further details.

“A joint police and army force were chasing terrorist elements in the Western Desert area of Al-Wahat and they engaged by mistake with four 4-wheel drives belonging to Mexican tourists who were present in a restricted area,” a statement from Egypt's interior ministry read.

“An inspection team was formed to identify what happened and why the tourist convoy was present in the aforementioned restricted area,” the statement added.

The Egyptian prosecution confirmed that seven of the 12 dead were Mexican nationals and that the other bodies were still at the site of the incident pending inspection, Al-Ahram's Arabic news website reported.

According to a source at the touristic company responsible for the tour group's trip, four Egyptians were killed and two were injured. The source declined to be named.

The prosecution said the features of the victims’ bodies were burned, adding that two of the injured were Egyptian officers from the security forces that shot at the victims.

Tourism Minister Khaled Ramy stated that one of those injured was American, according to Al-Ahram Arabic website.

At least seven of the ten injured are Mexicans, including one with dual US nationality, and have been sent to Dar Al-Fouad Hospital in the 6th October City district in Cairo’s outskirts.

Mona El-Bakry, head of public relations at the hospital, told Ahram Online none of the injured, six women and one man, are in a critical condition.

“Most of their injuries are either fractures in the limbs or first or second degree burns,” she said. “A detailed report of the injuries has been sent to the prosecution.”

Officials cite lack of permit

The group of tourists and their local guides were staying at a hotel in the touristic area of Bahariya Oasis, around 350km southwest of Cairo. The area is a popular site for camping, safari trips, and hiking.

The resort is located in the vast Western Desert, which occupies much of the western part of Egypt.

The desert, which runs along Egypt's western borders, has been exploited by Islamist militants due to its proximity to volatile and lawless Libya.

At least 21 Egyptian soldiers were killed in July 2014 when gunmen attacked a military checkpoint in the New Valley Governorate, in the Western Desert.

Rasha Azazi, a spokesperson for the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism, told AP that the tour company involved "did not have permits and did not inform authorities."

She also said that visits to the Farafra area in the White Desert, near to Bahariya Oasis, need to be cleared by officials first.

"They were not supposed to be there," she said, but could not provide further information on the circumstances of the shooting.

However, the source working at the touristic company which organised the trip, Windows of Egypt, told Ahram Online that the group did have a permit.

"We already had a permit from the tourism police [for the tour] and the group had a police officer accompanying it," said the source, adding that entering the desert zone does not require an additional military permit.

"All the tourists were Mexicans and they were accompanied by six Egyptians: four drivers and a guide, as well one police officer from the tourism police," the company source told Ahram Online.

The company source said four Egyptians died and two survived. "One of the drivers and the police officer survived," he said.

According to a leaked programme, which the source said was accurate, the group travelled from Cairo to Bahariya Oasis, arriving at 8am; once at the oasis they were scheduled to stay at El-Bawity Hotel for a total of two nights. The incident occurred on the afternoon of their first day in the area.

Mexican reaction

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto condemned the killings and called upon the Egyptian government to conduct thorough investigations into the incident.

In a phone call with his Mexican counterpart Claudia Ruis Massieu on Monday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry expressed his condolences for the death of the Mexican tourists.

Shoukry explained to Massieu the circumstances behind the shooting, adding that that the Mexican tourists were present in a restricted area, according to an official statement by the spokesperson for Egypt's foreign ministry, Ahmed Abo Zeid.

Shoukry told his Mexican counterpart that the Egyptian interior ministry will conduct all necessary investigations to find out the full details of the accident, adding that the Egyptian government will provide all support and medical care for the injured.

Jorge Alvarez Fuentes, Mexico's ambassador to Egypt, and consular representatives were at the Dar el-Fouad Hospital in suburban Cairo where the injured were transferred, and Alvarez had interviewed five survivors, according to a statement by the Mexican foreign ministry.

Ruiz Massieu is scheduled to give a press conference about the incident on Monday at 1245 GMT, according to AFP.

The minister dispatched to Egypt the director of her ministry's office for the protection of Mexicans abroad, as well as personnel from other embassies in the region.

Karim Abdel-Kodos contributed to this report

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11



Brian King
15-09-2015 12:51am
26-
232+
No Surprise
This is the Egyptian military which is trained by United States "consultants". Why would you be surprised at the shoot first, ask questions later stance.
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10



Tut
14-09-2015 09:35pm
915-
297+
Living in a glass house
I am not one to defend Egyptian Police, but the Mexican President needs to think before he criticizes Egypt. At least the Egyptian officials admitted a mistake, while the Mexican president can’t even find a decent excuse for the 43 Mexican students disappearing (most likely killed by his government) because they criticize the government! A corrupt country like Mexico, leading the world in drug related problems and murders, as well as Police corruption, should keep its mouth shut at this stage till investigations clear the issue!!
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9



expat
14-09-2015 07:23pm
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104+
i am deeply sorry for every lost live and wounded person...
this incident show utter idioty by the various combined organisations responsible to organise tripps a little different from the road trip hurghada-luxor...anything more sophisticated seems never to work out right in this country,5 years after it brouk down totally try to get real information from egypt air today and die while waiting,try to fix any kind of neat schedule in egypt on business and see your dates die, try to get into an insecure area of tourism and get killed by tourism police......i am totally not surprised what 90% of the commentators doesnt seem to grip, together with the Kharack event and the beheading of the croatian this year, tourism is dying by the day now
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8



Allen
14-09-2015 06:50pm
2236-
825+
Desperate Muslim brotherhood sheep.
Quiet amazing how they become indignant and suddenly take a moral high ground when the organization they worship the Muslim brotherhood terrorists is solely based on violence death and destruction. Naturally without any facts they already have their feeble conclusions. We don't know if these Mexicans were smuggling arms we don't know they were tourists in a war zone in the desolate western desert. Regardless they are there with their simple minded conclusions. What is funny one day ISIS is their hero the next they are comparing ISIS as a terror group to lump this unfortunate situation with Egypt's armed forces. Sadly brainwashed sheep not much more.
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KlausLondon
15-09-2015 10:13am
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230+
Mexican smuggling arms?
Nice conspiracy theory, but Mexican smuggling arms in the Egyptian desert, accompanied by a police officer? Sorry, that stretches credibility, apart from the fact that Mexico is a roman catholic majority country with very few MB sympathisers.
7



Farhan
14-09-2015 05:52pm
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628+
Egyptian military and regime never cares about human lives
They are no different from ISIS and Baghdadi in the way they enforce their views on others.
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Farhan
15-09-2015 12:11am
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@Sawsan, Did you forget Raba ?
How many innocents were murdered there ?
Sawsan Mostafa Ali
14-09-2015 08:07pm
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If what you said is true?
If what you said is true, our Army would have been terminated the terrorism in Sinai in (((one)))day. Because our army is very careful about lives of incoent human beings, it took all this time to clean Sinail from the terrorists.
6



Ridiculous
14-09-2015 03:59pm
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464+
Shoot to kill then ask question!
Condolence to the families of the deceased tourists and the Egyptians that escorted them. Our prayer for the injured ones and speedy recovery to them! This is nothing new in Egypt, the Egyptian security always did the same mistakes with the Egyptians on a daily basis so no surprised if this thing happen to the tourists because it will happen again. they have no respect for human live except following stupid orders blindly without checking or inspection and when they committed mistakes they will apologize and create ridiculous excuses for their actions! good luck if you go to Egypt for tourism and watch your back!
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5



khan
14-09-2015 03:44pm
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not accidentlly
if this happend accidently what about RABI AL ADWIA? WHY ICC QUIT BECAUSE SISI WORKING FOR JEWSH LOT OF INNOCENT HAS BEEN KILLED BY SISI . EGYPT SECURITY HAS BEEN USING BY WRONG HAND . ANY TIME ANY THING TO TURN OFFICERS SHOULD BE CAR FULL
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4



سوسن مصطفى على
14-09-2015 11:38am
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3+
انا غيرت رأييى
انا غيرت رأييى وسأكتب عندكم تعليقات احيانا ------اللى يقدر يكتب انجليزى لازم يشارك--------صباح الخير
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3



sawsan mostafa ali
14-09-2015 11:37am
687-
280+
It's very strange.
1- The cars are not licensed-----2- They did not take pass permission to make such a safari-----3- they were in a forbidden zone---------------it is very strange that Mexican Tourists come to make safaris in out Western Desert while the Mexican Safari at the Mexican desert is very famous world wide. Check drugs smugglers and weapons smugglers . It is very well known that there are secret roads in our Western Desert for smugglers.
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2



nonsense
14-09-2015 09:00am
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929+
first fire and ask after
why open fire??? police have guns... did the tourists fire a gun,, are you joking... hiding the reality and write positive about a negative item.. where they suspicious? why didn't they try before shooting to catch the 4x4 and check. if they don't fire why shoot and find out later? itches to pull the trigger??? before checking? really.... there is no excuse to fire first and then apologies
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