Egypt’s security forces accidentally killed a dozen tourists, a few of whom were Mexican.
About 12 people were instantly killed, and 10 seriously injured, when an anti-terrorism operation conducted by Egypt’s security forces went terribly wrong due to a case of mistaken identity and, perhaps, poor intelligence.
— INC World (@INCWorldAgency) September 14, 2015
Security forces, which included Egypt’s military as well as police, opened fire on vehicles they believed were carrying terrorists. Instead, the vehicles were carrying unarmed, innocent civilians, confirmed Egyptian officials. Egypt’s Foreign Ministry personnel had added that the identity of the victims is still being ascertained, and they will soon attempt to establish contact with the victims’ next of kin.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has posted a statement on his Twitter, saying his government “condemns these acts against our citizens” and has demanded a “swift, exhaustive, and deep” investigation.
México condena estos hechos en contra de nuestros ciudadanos y ha exigido al gobierno de Egipto una exhaustiva investigación de lo ocurrido.
— Enrique Peña Nieto (@EPN) September 14, 2015
There are two conflicting reports which tell a very different tale. According to Egypt’s Interior Ministry, the joint task force was tracking “terrorist elements” in the area and fired on four cars, which turned out to be carrying tourists. The Ministry claims the vehicles weren’t following the path designated for tourists and had wandered into a restricted area of the western desert, reported Fox News. The tourist vehicles lacked necessary permits and failed to inform authorities about their presence in the region, added Rasha Azazi, a spokesperson for the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism.
“Any trips to that area are required to be cleared by officials. They were not supposed to be there.”
However, the Mexican tourists who survived the attack claimed they had stopped for a meal when they were attacked by a plane and helicopters that launched bombs at them, reported Yahoo. The alleged aerial attack has killed 12 tourists and wounded 10.
The current consensus is that four pick-up trucks carrying tourists were targeted by Egyptian forces. Though the nature of the attack hasn’t been officially declared, the wounded have been admitted at the Dar el-Fouad Hospital in suburban Cairo.
Egypt’s desert regions are a popular tourist destination for people who wish to experience the harsh life of the barren land. However, it has also become a hotbed of militant and insurgent activity. Egypt’s military and law enforcement is concerned that the porous border it shares with Libya is rife with smuggling and all sorts of illegal activities, not to mention that Islamic insurgency is on the rise.
Under such dangerous circumstances, did Egypt’s forces fire upon tourists who were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time?
[Image Credit: Khaled Desouki / Getty Images]