September 18, 2015 / 3:42 AM / 2 years ago

Mexican survivor recounts three-hour aerial bombing ordeal in Egypt

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Egyptian warplanes mistakenly bombed a convoy of Mexican tourists five times over three hours, even though security forces on the ground had cleared their passage, one of six survivors of Sunday’s deadly attack said.

Claudia Ruiz Massieu, Mexico's Minister of Foreign Affairs, speaks to the media inside Dar Al Fouad Hospital, where injured tourists who were mistakenly targeted in a military operation "chasing terrorist elements" are recovering, in Cairo, Egypt, September 16, 2015. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

Susana Calderon’s 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 from the air,” she told Mexican newspaper El Universal from her hospital bed in Cairo.

Calderon was wounded in the arm and her right leg is paralyzed, though doctors believe she will regain 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.

Mexico also has demanded that Egypt compensate the victims.

Pena Nieto later said the six Mexicans who were wounded would be flown home on Thursday aboard his presidential plane.

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 attacking 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,” Calderon said. “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 attacked. 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, Grant McCool and Kim Coghill

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