Egypt attack survivors, some on stretchers, return to Mexico

Paramedics hold Mexican tourists as they are lowered from a plane after their arrival in Mexico City.
Paramedics hold Mexican tourists as they are lowered from a plane after their arrival in Mexico City.REUTERS

MEXICO CITY (AFP) - On stretchers and in wheelchairs, six Mexican tourists hurt in an Egyptian air strike that mistakenly killed eight others returned home Friday amid a call for compensation for the victims.

Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu brought the survivors back to Mexico City on the presidential plane three days after she flew to Cairo with relatives of victims to demand answers from Egyptian authorities.

Ruiz Massieu called on Egypt to provide compensation to the victims "according to international rights" for what she branded an "unjustified aggression."

"We are determined to exhaust all available means to defend the rights of each of the 14 Mexican civilians who were affected," she said, adding that a foreign ministry legal advisor was reviewing options.

Four of the wounded were brought off the plane on stretchers, one draped in the green, white and red flag of Mexico. Two others came out in wheelchairs.

"We are happy to have them home again," President Enrique Pena Nieto wrote on Twitter.

The wounded, who are all in stable condition, were taken to a public hospital in a police helicopter.

Their injuries ranged from shrapnel wounds to burns, fractures and respiratory ailments, Health Minister Mercedes Juan told reporters.

Pena Nieto met with families of the dead at his official residence, telling them his government was working to speed up the repatriation of the bodies from Egypt and that it was pressing for "full reparations" from Cairo, his office said.

The foreign ministry issued a new travel alert for Egypt, recommending that Mexicans "reconsider or postpone" plans to go there "due to political and social instability, as well as the threat of terrorist attacks or actions by the armed forces to confront them."


Sunday's attack has angered the Mexican government, which has demanded an exhaustive and transparent investigation that Cairo promised to conduct.

Eight Mexican tourists and four Egyptians were killed when they came under fire during a lunch break on their way to the Bahariya Oasis in the Western Desert. Ten people were wounded, including six Mexicans.

Survivors have told Mexican diplomats that they came under fire from a plane and helicopters.

Egypt said the tourists had entered a restricted area and were "mistakenly" killed as security forces chased militants who had abducted and beheaded an Egyptian.

Ruiz Massieu, who met with top Egyptian officials after arriving in Cairo on Tuesday, said her government was working to repatriate the bodies of the dead Mexicans "in the coming days."

Most of the tourists were from the western state of Jalisco. The dead included a shaman, a modelling agent and a hospital equipment salesman.

The wounded were identified as Marisela Rangel Davalos, Colette Gagiola Insulza, Carmen Susana Calderon Gallegos, Patricia Elizabeth Velarde Calderon, Gretell Overhague Chavez and Juan Pablo Garcia Chavez.

Calderon Gallegos told the El Universal newspaper that the air strike lasted three hours and that the tourist convoy was bombarded about five times.

Her husband of 20 years, Luis Barajas, died in the attack.

"I saw my husband when they put me on a stretcher to take me to the hospital," she said in the interview published Thursday.

"I heard him tell me he loved me, and I told him I do to. And then I heard nothing from him again."