By Nourhan Fahmy and Omnia Farrag
The Mexican authorities have demanded compensation from the Egyptian government for the families of the eight Mexican tourists who were mistakenly killed by Egyptian security forces on 13 September.
The Mexican authorities also demanded that the Egyptian side provide compensation for the six Mexican survivors of the attack.
The six survivors arrived in Mexico on Friday, four of whom were on stretchers whilst the other two were in wheelchairs. They were taken to the Mexican National Rehabilitation Institute immediately following their arrival, and were reported to be in stable medical condition, according to news reports.
Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Claudia Ruiz Massieu, who accompanied the survivors on their return home, stated that the Mexican government demands compensation from the Egyptian government for the victims. It also demands a transparent investigation into the accident.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto echoed Ruiz Massieu’s statements regarding the compensation during his visit to the survivors in the National Rehabilitation Institute on Friday.
On Thursday, the Mexican Foreign Ministry summoned Egypt’s Ambassador to Mexico, Yasser Shaa’ban, to discuss the compensation and investigation process of the accident.
Ongoing meetings in the past few days between Shaa’ban and Mexican Foreign Ministry officials are intended to follow up on the outcomes of Ruiz Massieu’s latest visit to Egypt, according to an Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesperson’s statement on Friday.
The spokesperson further stressed the need to await the results of the ongoing investigations, promising the Mexican authorities that they will receive the results promptly once investigations are concluded.
One of the survivors, Susan Calderon, recounted in an interview to Mexican newspaper El Universal, that the Egyptian security forces had bombed the convoy of Mexican tourists around five times from the air over a period of three hours. Calderon’s husband, Luis, was among the eight Mexicans killed in the attack.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi met Wednesday with Ruiz Massieu to inform her of the latest updates in the case. Al-Sisi reviewed the “swift measures taken by the Egyptian authorities in dealing with the aftermath of the accident”.
Also on Wednesday, a joint press conference featuring Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and his Mexican counterpart Ruiz Massieu took place in Cairo. Shoukry expressed his condolences, and reaffirmed the Egyptian government’s commitment to launch full, transparent investigations into the incident.
Al-Sisi confirmed Egypt’s readiness to cooperate transparently with Mexico and to brief the Mexican government on the results of the ongoing investigations. He noted that Egypt appreciates the sensitivity of the situation, and the grief of the victims’ families over their loss.
The day following the joint press conference, a media gag was ordered regarding the incident, as the general prosecution is currently investigating the case.
Twelve people were killed in the incident, including 8 Mexicans and 4 Egyptians, after they were accidentally targeted by Egyptian security forces in an airstrike on their convoys in the Bahariya Oasis. Ten people were also injured in the attack.
The Egyptian Ministry of Interior statement reported that the tourists went into a “restricted desert area” without informing security authorities according to regulations.
Placing the blame clearly outside of the government’s responsibility, Ministry of Tourism officials have blamed the tourism company, stating that the vehicles were without the appropriate permits and in a prohibited zone of the desert.
Egypt’s official response to the incident has met with critical reactions, both on a local and international scale.