MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Egyptian forces bombed a convoy of Mexican tourists around 5 times over a period of 3 hours, even after security forces on the ground had stopped them twice and cleared their passage, one of six survivors of Sunday’s deadly attack said.
Susana Calderon is recovering from the bombing in a hospital in Cairo. Her husband Luis was among eight Mexicans killed in what has been described as an accident that claimed 12 lives.
“We were bombed some five times, always from the air,” she told Mexican newspaper El Universal from her hospital bed. Her arm is marked with wounds and her right leg is paralyzed, though doctors believe she will recover movement.
President Enrique Pena Nieto has demanded Egypt investigate the attack and assign blame. The Egyptian prosecutor general’s office has announced a gag order on all news related to the investigation until its conclusion.
In a tweet on Thursday, Pena Nieto said the 6 Mexicans who were wounded and their relatives “are aboard the presidential plane, and ready to take off” to return to Mexico from Egypt. They were accompanied by Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu, who met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Wednesday.
The group of 22 people had parked on Sunday for a barbecue near the Bahariya oasis, a tourist site in the western desert, when army aircraft began shelling them believing they were militants, security sources and survivors have said.
As the tourists tried to flee, forces on the ground fired on them, Egyptian security sources have said.
“I saw my husband when they put me on a stretcher to take me to hospital,” she said. “I saw he was very badly wounded. He had a broken arm, like me. He had many wounds on his back, his waist, his whole spine, his legs.”
“I heard him tell me he loved me. I told him I loved him, too. And then I heard nothing more of him,” she said, adding that she was told days later that he had died.
Calderon said an Egyptian policeman was accompanying the group when they were bombed. It was supposed to be the start of a trip of a lifetime; she and her husband had planned to continue on to France, Belgium, Germany and Italy.
“The landscapes are beautiful, but there is nothing else. Nowhere to take shelter, nowhere to run,” she said of the desert. “God wanted me to know what real fear feels like.”
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 leading figure in the Muslim Brotherhood, after mass protests against his rule.
Writing by Simon Gardner; Editing by Toni Reinhold and Grant McCool