Egypt security forces accidentally kill 12, including Mexican tourists

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Were Tourists Killed In Egypt Really In A Restricted Area?

Egyptian security forces killed 12 Mexicans and Egyptians and injured 10 "by accident" on Monday, mistaking a tourist convoy for militants they were chasing in the country's western desert, the ministry of interior said.

At least two Mexicans were killed, Mexico's foreign ministry said in a statement.

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A joint force from the Egyptian police and military was chasing militants in the country's vast western desert, which borders Libya, when it inadvertently opened fire on the convoy.

The convoy was made up of four four-wheel drive vehicles, the Egyptian interior ministry said in a statement, and there will be an investigation into how and why the tourists entered an off-limits area.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto condemned the attack on his Twitter account, describing it as a tragic incident and demanding a full investigation.

"Mexico condemns these deeds against our citizens and has demanded an exhaustive investigation of what has occurred," he tweeted.

Egypt's tourism ministry spokesman told state news agency MENA the convoy was at an off-limits site and was using unlicensed cars. The convoy was taking part in an unapproved safari, he said.

Mexican ambassador Jorge Alvarez met with five Mexicans who were in stable condition in hospital, Mexico's foreign ministry said.

See photos of the desert and reaction on social media:

18 PHOTOS
Egypt security forces accidentally kill tourist convoy
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Egypt security forces accidentally kill 12, including Mexican tourists
Relatives of an Egyptian victim who was killed in Sunday's incident in which Egyptian forces mistakenly opened fire on tourists in the western desert, wait at a morgue in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. Egyptian forces hunting militants in the country's western desert mistakenly opened fire on Mexican tourists on safari, killing 12 people and dealing a further blow to the government's efforts to project an image of stability as it fights an increasingly powerful insurgency, officials said Monday. (AP Photo/Mohamed Elraai)
Egyptian police officers direct people as ambulances carrying Egyptian victims of Sunday's incident in which Egyptian forces mistakenly opened fire on tourists in the western desert, arrive at a morgue in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. Egyptian forces hunting militants in the country's western desert mistakenly opened fire on Mexican tourists on safari, killing 12 people and dealing a further blow to the government's efforts to project an image of stability as it fights an increasingly powerful insurgency, officials said Monday. (AP Photo/Mohamed Elraai)
Egypt’s ambassador to Mexico, Yasser Shaban, listens to a question during a press conference in Mexico City, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. Egyptian forces hunting militants in the country's western desert mistakenly opened fire on Mexican tourists on safari, killing 12. Shaban suggested that the Egyptian troops were confused because vehicles used by the tourists were "similar to those used by terrorists." He, however, did not repeat earlier assertions that the tourists were in an off-limits area. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
Acting Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb speaks to journalists after his visit to injured Mexican tourists at the Dar Al Fouad Hospital in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. At least 12 people were killed and 10 injured in Egypt's southwestern desert Sunday, Sept 13, 2015, when security forces mistakenly fired on a group of Mexican tourists on a safari trip, Egyptian officials said. The Mexican Foreign Ministry confirmed the incident and said at least two of the dead were Mexican nationals. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)
Acting Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb shakes hands with officials as he arrives to visit injured Mexican tourists at the Dar Al Fouad Hospital in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. At least 12 people were killed and 10 injured in Egypt's southwestern desert Sunday, Sept 13, 2015, when security forces mistakenly fired on a group of Mexican tourists on a safari trip, Egyptian officials said. The Mexican Foreign Ministry confirmed the incident and said at least two of the dead were Mexican nationals. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)
Egyptian journalists wait for information about tourists who were injured Sunday while on a desert safari trip, in front of the Dar Al Fouad Hospital in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. At least 12 people were killed and 10 injured in Egypt's southwestern desert Sunday, Sept 13, 2015, when security forces mistakenly fired on a group of Mexican tourists, Egyptian officials said. The Mexican Foreign Ministry confirmed the incident and said at least two of the dead were Mexican nationals. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)
Newly appointed Egyptian Tourism Minister Khaled Ramy arrives to Dar al-Fouad Hospital in a western Cairo suburb ahead of a visit to injured tourists who were mistakenly targeted by a joint police and military operation 'chasing terrorist elements', on September 14, 2015. Egyptian security forces have mistakenly killed 12 people including Mexican tourists while chasing jihadists in the country's vast Western Desert, drawing condemnation and calls for an investigation from Mexico. AFP PHOTO / MOHAMED EL-SHAHED (Photo credit should read MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images)
Claudia Ruiz Massieu, Mexico's minister of foreign affairs, speaks at a news conference in Mexico City, Mexico, on Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. Egyptian security forces accidentally killed at least 12 people in the western desert area after mistaking a Mexican tourist group for terrorists, Egypt's Interior Ministry said. Photographer: Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Egyptian security members stand guard as newly appointed Tourism Minister Khaled Ramy arrives at the Dar al-Fouad Hospital in a western Cairo suburb to visit injured tourists who were mistakenly targeted by a joint police and military operation 'chasing terrorist elements', on September 14, 2015. Egyptian security forces have mistakenly killed 12 people including Mexican tourists while chasing jihadists in the country's vast Western Desert, drawing condemnation and calls for an investigation from Mexico. AFP PHOTO / MOHAMED EL-SHAHED (Photo credit should read MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE - This Saturday, May 19, 2013 file photo shows a view of the Egyptian White desert, about 500 kilometers (310 miles) southwest of Cairo, Egypt. At least 12 people were killed and 10 injured in Egypt's southwestern desert Sunday, Sept 13, 2015, when security forces mistakenly fired on a group of Mexican tourists, Egyptian officials said. The Mexican Foreign Ministry confirmed the incident and said at least two of the dead were Mexican nationals. (AP Photo/Manoocher Deghati, File)
FILE - This September 2012 file photo shows desert safari driver Ahmed Bakrin building a small fire to make mint tea before sunset during a trek through the Great Sand Sea outside the Egyptian oasis of Siwa, roughly 450 miles (about 725 kilometers) southwest of Cairo. At least 12 people were killed and 10 injured in Egypt's southwestern desert Sunday, Sept 13, 2015, when security forces mistakenly fired on a group of Mexican tourists, Egyptian officials said. The Mexican Foreign Ministry confirmed the incident and said at least two of the dead were Mexican nationals. (AP Photo/Kim Gamel, File)
Local tour guide tells BBC that the Mexican tourists killed by Egypt's security forces were not in a restricted area
Friend of Western desert victim, a hotel owner, says they had a police escort #Egypt #Farafara
Most foreigners I know in #Cairo, including myself, have made desert trips from Baheriya oasis #Egypt
#EGWestDesert proves that security forces r not only repressive bt also incompetent. How many innocents they mistakenly killed last 2~3 yrs?
The Mexican Safari trip had a police escort. Egypt police is taking rock bottom to a whole new depth...Shale gas depth! #EGWestDesert
Next time Cairo complains international press damages Egypt's tourism by negative reporting, remind them: the press didn't fire on tourists.
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The Mexican ministry said an "undetermined" number of its country's nationals had been attacked and that it was in the process of identifying the two who had been killed.

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

Earlier on Sunday Islamic State released a statement carried by its supporters on Twitter saying it had repelled an attack by the Egyptian military in the western desert.

While the insurgency has been largely based in the Sinai Peninsula, attacks have taken place in Cairo and other cities. In August, an Egyptian military aircraft crashed in the western desert near the Libyan border while on a mission against Islamist militants, killing four people.

Security officials say militants operating from Libya to the west of Egypt have been trying to forge ties with Islamists in the Sinai on the east side of the country.

Egyptian jets bombed Islamic State targets in Libya in February, a day after the group there released a video showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians, drawing Cairo directly into factional conflict across its border.

(Reporting by Ahmed Tolba and Ahmed Mohamed Hassan; Additional reporting by Michael O'Boyle in Mexico City; Writing by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Tom Hogue)

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