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Egyptian forces kill 12, mistaking Mexican tourists for militants

Agencies | Updated: 2015-09-14 09:59

Egyptian forces kill 12, mistaking Mexican tourists for militants

Egyptian Tourism Minister Khaled Rami speaks to the media following a visit to injured tourists, who were mistakenly targeted in a military operation "chasing terrorist elements", in front of the Dar Al Fouad Hospital in Cairo, Egypt, September 14, 2015.[Photo/Agencies]

CAIRO - Egyptian Army aircraft hunting for militants in the desert mistakenly bombed a convoy of mostly Mexican tourists, killing 12 people and wounding 10, authorities said on Monday.

Survivors said their group was bombed from a plane and helicopters. As members of the tourist convoy tried to flee, additional forces on the ground fired on them, Egyptian security sources said.

Egypt's interior ministry described the attack in the country's western desert as an accident.

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto said two Mexicans were killed in Sunday's incident, though Egyptian security and judicial sources later said eight Mexicans and four Egyptians were killed. The sources said eight Mexicans and two Egyptians were wounded.

In Mexico, the sister of a Reiki healer who said her brother was among the dead, said a relative of the group's tour guide had sent her a list of eight Mexicans killed in the attack.

The group of 22 had parked their four 4x4 vehicles off-road on Sunday for a barbecue near the Bahariya oasis, a tourist site in the western desert, when army aircraft suddenly began shelling them from above, security sources said.

"Unfortunately we have confirmed that two (Mexicans) lost their lives and six more were wounded," Pena Nieto said, condemning the incident. "Mexico has demanded the Egyptian government conducts a swift, exhaustive investigation."

Mexico's ambassador to Egypt, Jorge Alvarez, said six Mexicans who survived the incident were in stable condition. Alvarez added that the government was still seeking information about six other Mexicans of the 14-strong group still unaccounted for.

Alvarez identified the two dead as Luis Barajas Fernandez and Maria de Lourdes Fernandez Rubio.

In Washington, US State Department spokesman John Kirby said an American might be among those injured in the attack.

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