8 Mexicans Mistakenly Killed In Egypt Strike

Six Mexican tourists wounded in an Egyptian air strike that mistakenly killed eight of their compatriots were to head home on Thursday, a Mexican foreign ministry spokesman said.

The survivors had left a Cairo hospital and were en route to the airport where they were to leave aboard a plane with Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu, her spokesman Rafael Lugo told AFP.

The five women and a man where wheeled out of the hospital on stretchers and lifted into ambulances, an AFP photographer said.

"I'm very grateful to the Egyptian people and the Mexican people for all their attentiveness," said one, Maricela Rangel Davalos, as she was being placed into an ambulance.

"I'm glad to go home," said another. A third, when asked about the circumstances of the incident, declined to comment.

Ruiz Massieu had come to Cairo demanding answers on the attack, which saw Egyptian security forces target the tourists in the Western Desert after mistaking them for militants.

The incident has proven embarrassing for Egypt, which relies heavily on tourism revenues.

In a press conference with Ruiz Massieu on Wednesday, her Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry vowed a "transparent" investigation.

But the state prosecutor, whose office handles investigations, has placed a gag order on reporting details of the probe, the official MENA news agency reported.

Egypt said the tourists had entered a restricted area in the Western Desert and were "mistakenly" killed as security forces chased jihadists who had abducted and beheaded an Egyptian.

Hassan al-Nahla, the head of Egypt's tour guides union, said the group had received all the required permits and set off with a police escort from Cairo to the Bahariya oasis, roughly 350 kilometres (220 miles) away.

They had stopped along the way and driven two kilometres into the desert for a picnic when they were attacked.

The Western Desert is popular with tour groups, but is also a militant hideout, with Western embassies warning against non-essential travel there.

Last month, Egypt's branch of the Islamic State group, which calls itself Sinai Province, beheaded a Croatian oil worker, who was abducted near Cairo, at the edge of the Western Desert.

IS's affiliate in the Sinai Peninsula has killed hundreds of soldiers since 2013, when the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and launched a bloody crackdown on his supporters.

( AFP )
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