September 16, 2015 / 10:45 AM / 2 years ago

Mexico to wait for Egypt investigation before further action: minister

CAIRO (Reuters) - Mexico will wait for the results of an Egyptian government investigation into the mistaken attack by security forces that killed eight Mexican tourists before determining what action to take, the foreign minister said on Wednesday.

Claudia Ruiz Massieu, Minister of Foreign Affairs, looks on during a news conference at the Foreign Affairs building in Mexico City, September 14, 2015. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

A group of 22 had parked up on Sunday for a barbecue near the Bahariya oasis, a tourist site in the western desert, when army aircraft suddenly began shelling them believing they were militants, security sources and survivors said.

As the tourists tried to flee, forces on the ground fired on them, Egyptian security sources said. Eight Mexicans and four Egyptians were killed.

Mexican Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Wednesday. The minister will accompany the survivors and victims’ remains home to Mexico.

“The talks and negotiations have revolved around the issue of the investigation. (It) will be a thorough, comprehensive, expedited and transparent one and it’s findings will be made public,” Massieu told a news conference.

The findings “will be available for determining the responsibilities and further actions”, she added.

A committee chaired by the Egyptian prime minister would lead the investigation and report its findings, a statement released by Sisi’s office after his meeting with Massieu said.

“Egypt expects its friends in Mexico to understand the current security circumstances it is going through, especially when it comes to fighting terrorism,” the statement added.

Egypt’s prosecutor general’s office announced a gag order on all news related to the investigation until its conclusion.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri penned an open letter to the Mexican people carried in Mexican newspapers on Wednesday expressing his condolences and sympathy, but offered no apology.

“I am deeply troubled that some people have chosen to exploit this tragic event to allege that Egyptian law enforcement officials have no strict rules of engagement, (or) act indiscriminately,” the letter read.

The Egyptian military has released no statement acknowledging the incident, though an earlier statement by the Interior Ministry said it resulted from a joint police-military operation pursuing nearby militants.

“The Egyptian authorities are unequivocally committed to uncovering the precise details of this tragedy. The chain of events is still confusing and unclear,” Shukri’s letter said.

Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country, is battling an Islamist insurgency that has intensified since mid-2013 when then-army chief Sisi ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, a top figure in the Muslim Brotherhood, after mass protests against his rule.

Additional reporting by Eric Knecht and Omar Fahmy; Editing by Alison Williams

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