Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism has stated that preliminary investigations have revealed that the Mexican and Egyptian tourists killed and injured in the Western Desert had been travelling in a prohibited area and without any permission.
In statements to the Middle East News Agency(MENA), the Ministry of Tourism’s spokeswoman Rasha Al-Azayzee said that she deeply regrets the incident in which security forces killed 12 Mexican tourists and Egyptians after mistaking them for terrorists.
The spokeswoman added that the group of Mexican tourists had been present in a prohibited area that is forbidden for entry. The statement also added that the cars used by the tourist group had not been licensed and did not have the necessary permits for the ‘safari trip’ in the Western Desert’s oases. Moreover, the spokeswoman added that they had received no notification of the group’s journey or track.
The spokeswoman declared that the Minister of Tourism has promised that those who organized the trip, if found guilty, will receive the maximum punishment.
Despite these preliminary findings, the Ministry of Tourism set up an operations room and has declared a high level of emergency while it continues to investigate the incident. The operations room consists of cooperation with the New Valley Governorate and police and military officials.
At least 12 Mexican tourists and their Egyptian guides were killed after security forces opened fire on four SUVs in the Western Desert.
According to an official statement by the Ministry of Interior, the tourists were killed after security forces mistook them for terrorists which they had been pursuing. Ten people who had been injured in the incident were transported to hospital for treatment.
The police statement added that the vehicles had been in an area banned for access by civilians due to the security situation.
Meanwhile, Mexico’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that two Mexicans have been identified as being among those killed. The Foreign Ministry added that it was still working to identify other Mexicans that may be among those killed. However, Egyptian judicial and government sources have announced that eight Mexican tourists are among those killed.
“In a tragic incident in Egypt, Mexican tourists were attacked. I deeply regret that people have lost their lives,” said the Mexican leader on Twitter.
“Mexico’s Ambassador to Egypt has been supporting the wounded hospitalized. Mexico condemns these acts against our citizens and against the Government of Egypt and has called for a thorough investigation of what happened”.