Mexico Says Tourists were Killed in Egyptian Air Strike


Mexico called on Egypt Monday to swiftly investigate why a group of tourists were mistakenly targeted in what witnesses described as an air strike that killed at least two Mexicans.

President Enrique Pena Nieto said 14 Mexicans were among those involved in Sunday's "grave incident" in the Western Desert.

Egyptian authorities said security forces mistakenly killed 12 people and wounded 10 others when they struck their convoy while chasing jihadists, but they have not given details about the weaponry used or the breakdown of victims.

Mexican media identified one of the dead as a 40-year-old musician whose mother was wounded in the attack.

"The events of yesterday have saddened us as a nation. There is no precedent in years of an event like this one that harms our compatriots," Pena Nieto said.

"Mexico has demanded from the Egyptian government an exhaustive, deep and swift investigation into what happened," he said at a military event in Mexico City.

Pena Nieto said Egypt has vowed to form an investigative committee that will be headed by Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab.

- Attacked on lunch break -

Six Mexican survivors told Mexico's ambassador to Egypt that they had stopped for a meal when they "suffered an aerial attack with bombs launched by a plane and helicopters," Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu told a news conference.

The group had arrived in Cairo on September 11 and left two days later on their way to the Bahariya oasis, Ruiz Massieu said.

They were near the oasis when they came under fire, she said. The Egyptian travel agency Windows of Egypt informed the Mexican ambassador about the attack.

At least two Mexicans have been confirmed dead, she said, adding that diplomats are trying to identify them.

The six survivors, who were taken to a hospital in a Cairo suburb, are in stable condition, the minister said.

She said her ministry delivered a diplomatic note to the Egyptian ambassador in which the Mexican government expresses its "deep dismay over these deplorable events" and demands an investigation.

"The Mexican government asks that Egyptian authorities give the highest priority and urgency to clearing up this issue," Ruiz Massieu said.

Egyptian authorities said the tourists were in an area that was "off-limits" but did not provide an exact location.

- Musician killed -

Mexican media identified one of the dead as Rafael Jose Bejarano Rangel, a 40-year-old musician and shaman, whose mother, Marisela Rangel, was wounded.

According to the Reforma newspaper, Bejarano Rangel supported indigenous Huichol communities and played local instruments.

The man's aunt, Araceli Rangel Davalos, told Milenio television that she learned about the incident "last night in the news."

Rangel Davalos said her sister Marisela was in stable condition but that they have not been able to talk.

"I hope I can go be with my family soon," she said.