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Dead left unattended after Egyptian forces attack tourists

Mada Masr | September 14, 2015

The bodies of the Egyptian victims are still lying in the desert following the killing of 12 Mexicans and Egyptians by security forces on Sunday, according to a lawyer whose relative was killed in the attack.

Amr Imam, a lawyer at the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, who was on his way to the scene of the accident by the time of publication, told Mada Masr that neither the prosecution nor the forensics want to investigate, citing other family members who have been at the Western Desert since yesterday.

“That means that the bodies have already deteriorated,” he said, “although the accident happened only 500 meters away from the road.”

Ten other passengers in a convoy of four cars were injured and transferred to the hospital, according to a statement by the Ministry of Interior, which was released early Monday morning.

The ministry claimed the convoy was in a restricted area, and that a joint police and military force was on a mission to tackle armed groups in the area.

Earlier on Sunday, the Islamic State released a statement on social media saying they had exchanged fire with the Egyptian military in the Western Desert.

Imam said that tour guide Awad Fathi and the other victims were killed by an Apache, according to eyewitnesses, including the driver, who is the only Egyptian who survived the accident.

Spanish newspaper El Mundo quoted an anonymous employee of the tour group Qasr El Bawity, who said that the group was fired on as they were eating dinner and that “some tried to run away, but the military followed them and fired at those who tried to escape.”

“[The army] didn’t even call them an ambulance; it was people from the oasis who helped them,” the source was quoted as saying.

Mexican President Peña Nieto condemned the accident on Twitter, saying “Mexico condemns these events against our citizens and has demanded that the Egyptian government launch an exhaustive investigation into what happened.”

In a phone call on Monday, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry expressed condolences to his Mexican counterpart, explaining that the tourists were in an allegedly restricted area and that their presence coincided with an ongoing operation against terrorists.

Shoukry further explained that the tourists were in cars that are similar to those of suspects in the operation, according to a statement issued on the ministry’s website.

He assured the Mexican foreign minister that the Interior Ministry will investigate the matter, and that the Egyptian government will provide all necessary medical assisstance for the injured, as well as facilitate the transfer of the bodies back to their home country.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ahmed Abou Zeid declined any further comment on the incident, deferring to the Interior Ministry statement.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism issued a statement regretting the accident, saying investigations are underway.

The statement said that the results of the investigations will be announced as soon as possible.

The Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abou Zeid declined any further comment, referring the press instead to the statement made by the Foreign Ministry on Monday.

The civilian deaths are the latest in a country embroiled in a violent conflict with Islamist insurgents, focused in the area of North Sinai. On the same day as the accident, the Armed Forces announced the deaths of 53 insurgents in North Sinai, claiming a total of 349 insurgent deaths since September 7. No civilian deaths have been reported by the military.

However, the identity of those killed is often subject to conflicting reports, such as the worker from a military owned company killed by the army in Arish, North Sinai, in June. While the military claimed he was an insurgent fighting for Islamic State affiliated Sinai Province, an eyewitness told Mada Masr that the man had no such connection.

The Egyptian government ratified a law on August 16 making it illegal to contradict official reports of terrorist attacks. The law came in the aftermath of an attack on the military in North Sinai where the government claimed 17 people were killed. Foreign news outlets estimated the deaths at 60-70.

September 14, 2015 - Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Militarism | ,

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