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Egyptian Forces Kill 12 After Mistaking Mexican Tourists for ‘Terrorist Elements’

Egypt's Interior Ministry said that police and military forces were pursuing “terrorist elements,” when they accidentally opened fire on a convey carrying Mexican tourists.
September 14, 2015, 2:00am
L'Oasis de Dakhla dans le désert de l'Ouest égyptien. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Egyptian security forces killed several Mexican tourists and civilians when they mistakenly opened fire on a convoy in the country's Western Desert, the Egyptian Ministry of Interior said on Monday.

"The incident resulted in the death of 12 Mexicans and Egyptians and the injury of 10 others who have been transferred to hospitals," the ministry said in a statement.

Mexico's government confirmed on Monday that two of its citizens were killed in Egypt. "Mexico condemns these acts against our citizens and has demanded of the government of Egypt a thorough investigation of what happened," Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said in a statement on Twitter.

The Egyptian statement said the shooting happened while a joint police and military operation was "chasing terrorist elements in the oasis area of the Western Desert." The area was described as "off-limits," and the government said there would be an investigation into how and why the tourists ended up there. The convoy was described as "four four-wheel drives."

Reports on social media said the Egyptian forces opened fire with an Apache helicopter.

Reports that at least 20 tourists, mostly Egyptians & — Dee_Kholaif (@Dee_Kholaif)September 13, 2015

Killed 12 tourists, plus 6 Egyptians by Apache helicopter In Egypt ( third world ) — Tarek Tolba (@tolba007)September 14, 2015

Egypt is battling an insurgency that gained pace after the military ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in mid-2013 after mass protests against his rule.

The insurgency, mounted by the Islamic State's Egyptian affiliate, has killed hundreds of soldiers and police and has started to attack Western targets.

Earlier on Sunday, the Islamic State militants released a statement carried by its supporters on Twitter saying it had repelled an attack by the Egyptian military in the Western Desert, a recent development for the insurgency that had been largely based in the Sinai Peninsula with occasional attacks taking place in Cairo and other cities.

Related: 29 Islamic State Allies Reportedly Killed by Egypt as Sinai Fighting Heats Up

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Photo via Wikimedia Commons