What you need to know about Egypt’s accidental killing of tourists

Egyptian security forces mistakenly gunned down 12 Mexicans and Egyptians, leaving 10 injured this morning. A joint force from the Egyptian military and police was chasing militants in the country’s expansive western desert, which borders Libya, when it accidentally opened fire on the convoy.

Shots were fired at a tourist convoy believed to have been militants they were chasing in the country’s western desert, the ministry of interior said.

Amr Imam, an Egyptian human rights lawyer, told the Guardian that one his relatives, Awad Fathi, was among six Egyptians killed in the convoy. According to Mr Imam Fathi, 37, was a manager and tour guide operator at the Kisr al-Buwati Hotel in the Bahariya oasis, a popular tourist stop around 370km south of Cairo.

Egypt’s official English-language tourism website lists the location of the attack, the Bahariya Oasis, as a popular tourist spot, despite official claims that the bus carrying the Mexican tourists was travelling without permits in a restricted area. However Egypt’s tourism ministry spokesman told state news agency MENA that the convoy made up of four-wheel drive vehicles was at an off-limits site and was using unlicensed cars.

There will be a thorough investigation into how and why the tourists entered that area. This comes to the heels of Mexican President, Enrique Pena Nieto condemnation of the attack on his Twitter account. He described this occurrence as a tragic incident and demanding a full on investigation. “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. But while two Mexicans have been confirmed dead, the total number of those attacked is still undetermined.

Tensions have been high in Egypt since President Mohammed Morsi was removed in July 2013, battling an insurgency that has recently gained pace. These attacks mounted by Islamic State’s Egyptian affiliate, has killed hundreds of soldiers and police and has started to attack Western targets. The Islamic State had released a statement on Sunday saying it had repelled an attack by the Egyptian military in the western desert.

Egypt’s political turmoil has eased in recent months though there have been sporadic flare-ups often quelled with violence.

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