Mexico FM heads to Egypt after tourists killed

At least two Mexicans were killed and six missing after their convoy came under attack during an operation Sunday against extremists

Mexico FM heads to Egypt after tourists killed

World Bulletin / News Desk

Mexico's foreign minister was to fly to Egypt Tuesday with relatives of the tourists mistakenly killed by Egyptian security forces as her government called for an urgent investigation of the "deplorable event".

At least two Mexicans were killed and six missing after their convoy came under attack during an operation Sunday against extremists in Egypt's vast Western Desert.

Egypt's interior ministry said forces "chasing terrorist elements" had "mistakenly" targeted four pick-up trucks carrying the tourists.

It did not give a breakdown of the casualties but said "the incident led to the death of 12 Mexicans and Egyptians and the wounding of 10 others".

Mexican Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu said late Monday she was heading to Cairo to seek answers from Egyptian authorities, accompanied by relatives of some of the victims and doctors to care for the wounded.

"We face a terrible loss of human lives and an unjustified attack that obligates us to make the protection of our citizens the priority," she told reporters at Mexico City's international airport.

At least two Mexicans were confirmed dead, while another six were wounded and six more unaccounted for, she said.

Ruiz Massieu said she would hold talks with top Egyptian officials in order to "obtain first-hand information that can clear up the circumstances of this deplorable event, which has cost the lives of innocent Mexican tourists".

The minister earlier said the tour group had arrived in Cairo on September 11 and left two days later for the Bahariya oasis.

She said the six Mexican survivors told the Mexican ambassador they had stopped for a meal when they "suffered an aerial attack with bombs launched by a plane and helicopters".

Egypt had pledged to create an investigative committee headed by the prime minister, she said.

US State Department spokesman John Kirby said American embassy staff were checking "reports of a potential US citizen involved".

He refused to be drawn on reports that Apache attack helicopters built and supplied by the United States were used in the raid.

- Tourism concerns -

Mexico's envoy in Cairo had visited wounded nationals in the city's Dar al-Fouad Hospital where they were listed in stable condition, the foreign ministry in Mexico City said.

Relatives identified one of the dead as 41-year-old Rafael Bejarano Rangel, a musician whose mother, Marisela Rangel, was wounded in the attack.

The incident was likely to raise further concerns for Egypt's vital tourism industry, which has struggled to recover from years of political and economic chaos.

The Western Desert, which extends from the suburbs of Cairo to the border with Libya, is popular with tour groups, but is also a militant hideout, with Western embassies warning against non-essential travel to the area.

A senior tourism ministry official told AFP the incident happened as the tourists were between Cairo and the Bahariya oasis, about 350 kilometres (220 miles) southwest of the capital.

Last month, Egypt's branch of the ISIL group beheaded a young Croatian in the Western Desert who was working for a French company, and ISIL has also attacked security forces there several times.

ISIL in Egypt said in a statement it had "resisted a military operation in the Western Desert" on Sunday, but gave no other details.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 15 Eylül 2015, 09:07