Egyptian security forces have “accidentally” killed 12 Mexicans and Egyptians and wounded 10, by mistaking a tourist convoy for militants.
At least two Mexicans were killed, Mexico’s foreign ministry confirmed in a statement.
A joint force from the Egyptian police and military was chasing militants in the country’s vast western desert bordering Libya, when it mistakenly opened fire on the convoy, having mistaken it for Islamist militants it had been persuing.
Egypt is currently battling an insurgency that has continued to gain momentum after mass protests against the rule of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013, which led to his ousting by the military.
The insurgency, led by Islamic State’s Egyptian affiliate, has killed hundreds of soldiers and police and has now begun to attack Western targets.
“A joint force from the police and military, whilst chasing terrorist elements in the oasis area of the western desert tonight, accidentally engaged four four-wheel drives belonging to a Mexican tourist group,” the ministry said in a statement.
“The incident resulted in the death of 12 Mexicans and Egyptians and the injury of 10 others who have been transferred to hospitals,”
The convoy was made up of four four-wheel drive vehicles and there will be an investigation into how and why the tourists had entered an off-limits area, the statement added.
Egypt’s tourism ministry spokesman echoed the statement’s comments, telling state news agency MENA that the convoy had been at an off-limits site and had been using unlicensed cars in part of “an unapproved safari”.
Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto took to Twitter to condemn the attack, describing it as a tragic incident and demanding a full 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
“Mexico condemns these deeds against our citizens and has demanded an exhaustive investigation of what has occurred,” he tweeted.
Mexican ambassador Jorge Alvarez met with five Mexicans who were in stable condition in hospital, Mexico’s foreign ministry said.
The Mexican ministry said an “undetermined” number of its citizens had been attacked and that it is in the process of identifying the two who had been killed.