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Egypt says will investigate accidental killing of Mexico tourists

Cairo has pledged a quick and "transparent" probe into the deaths of eight Mexican tourists in the country. The travelers died when they were hit by an air strike after security forces mistook them for militants.

Egypt would "carry out a prompt, thorough and transparent investigation" into the killings of the Mexican citizens, the country's foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry, said in a joint statement with his Mexican counterpart, Claudia Ruiz Massieu, who also met President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi (pictured above).

El-Sissi's office released a statement after a meeting with Massieu, saying Egypt expected Mexico to "understand the current security circumstances it is going through, especially when it comes to fighting terrorism."

Egypt's prosecutor general, meanwhile, announced a gag order on news related to the investigation until its conclusion.

Findings to be publicized

Massieu confirmed that her talks with el-Sissi and the foreign minister "revolved around the issue of the investigation" and that its findings would be made public. The results "will be available for determining the responsibilities and further actions," she added.

Earlier on Wednesday, Massieu visited the hospital in which survivors of Sunday's attack were being treated. The tourists had been in Egypt's western desert when they were hit by an air strike after security forces mistook them as militants.

Claudia Ruiz Massieu in Ägypten

Foreign Minister Shoukry (right): 'confusing chain of events'

The Egyptian military has not released any statement acknowledging the incident, although a statement from the Interior Ministry earlier said the strike was a result of a joint police-military action against suspected militants in the area.

The government in Cairo blamed the tour guides for the mistake, saying they had led the tourists into restricted zones. The union of the guides denied the accusation.

Chain of events 'unclear'

Shoukry sought to calm Mexican citizens with an open letter carried by newspapers in Mexico. "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," Shoukry wrote.

"The Egyptian authorities are unequivocally committed to uncovering the precise details of this tragedy. The chain of events is still confusing and unclear," he added.

Cairo's fight against Islamist insurgency intensified in 2013, after President El-Eissi, who was the army chief at the time, ousted President Mohammed Morsi following mass protests against his Muslim Brotherhood government.

mg/sms (AFP, Reuters)

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