Bloodbath as Egyptian Military Fires on Tourists

Incident the result of mistaken identity, officials say
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 14, 2015 1:17 AM CDT
Egyptian Forces Accidentally Attack Tourist Convoy
Egyptian Army soldiers patrol in an armored vehicle backed by a helicopter gunship during a sweep through Sinai villages.   (AP Photo, File)

Mexican tourists and their Egyptian guides are among at least 12 people dead after what appears to have been a case of mistaken identity in Egypt's Western Desert resulted in a bloodbath. Egyptian officials say a joint military-police force was pursuing "terrorist elements" in the region when they accidentally targeted a tourist convoy of four SUVs, reports Reuters. A Ministry of Tourism spokeswoman tells the AP that the group "did not have permits and did not inform authorities" that they were going to be in the area, which is off-limits to tourists. "They were not supposed to be there," she says.

Officials say the group was around 30 miles from Bahariya Oasis, a popular stop more than 300 miles southwest of Cairo for desert tour groups, the New York Times reports. Mexico has confirmed that two of its citizens were killed and at least five injured. Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto tweeted that the country condemns the killings and is demanding an "exhaustive" investigation. Egypt is battling ISIS insurgents in the west of the country and the Sinai Peninsula, and ISIS released a statement before yesterday's attack saying it had fought off an Egyptian military assault, Reuters reports. The country's tourist industry was already in rough shape, with visitor numbers down to 10 million last year from 15 million in 2010, according to the Guardian. (Read more Egypt stories.)

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