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Egypt compensates families of Mexican tourists accidentally killed

Relatives of the Mexican tourists light candles and pray for the wounded and dead [AFP]

Date of publication: 11 May, 2016

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Egypt's federation of tourism agencies has paid $140,000 each in compensation to the families of three of eight Mexican tourists mistakenly killed by Egyptian security forces last year.
The federation of Egyptian tourism agencies said on Monday it had paid $140,000 each in compensation to the families of three of eight Mexican tourists killed by mistake last year.

The tourists and four Egyptians were killed by security forces in September 2015 when they came under fire during a lunch break in Egypt's vast Western Desert while on their way to the Bahariya oasis.

Survivors have told Mexican diplomats 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 jihadists.

"The families of three of the victims have each received a bank transfer worth $140,000," said Ahmed Ibrahim, treasurer of the Egyptian Travel Agents Association.

He told AFP the payment was made after the three families agreed not to press legal proceedings against Egypt after their relatives were killed.

Their lawyers signed the agreement last week, he said.

"Negotiations are under way with the other five families in order to close the case definitively," Ibrahim said.

Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid confirmed that an agreement had been reached to compensate three of the eight families.

He said the accord was between the federation and the families and that the Egyptian government was not involved.

Ibrahim said the federation agreed to compensate the families after an investigation found that the travel agency looking after the tourists was responsible for their deaths.

In January, Mexican Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu said Egypt's tourism ministry "found that the administrative authorities and the travel agency should have had more clarity on the permit, and in that sense would eventually be responsible".

Declining tourism

The Mexican tourists incident, among others, has had a tremendous effect on Egypt's tourism industry.

According to the latest government statistics, the number of tourists visiting Egypt in March dropped by 47.2 percent in comparison to the same month last year.

The March numbers mark the fifth consecutive month that tourism numbers have declined in Egypt.

Egypt's tourism sector has also been hit hard by the downing of a Russian airliner, which was claimed by a group affiliated with the Islamic State, killing all 224 people onboard.

In late February, Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said tourism revenues had fallen by approximately $1.3 billion since the Russian plane crash.

Agencies contributed to this report

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