Travel Safety: 12 Tourists Killed In Egypt – Mistakenly Shot By Egyptian Security Forces

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Terrible news are coming from Egypt today where twelve tourists were killed by Egyptian security forces who mistook the group for terrorists.

Egypt

The once popular tourist destination descended into chaos during past years after the former president Mubarak has been deposed and a number of political parties fought for power and influence.

Egypt has been especially popular with European tourists who loved to visit the country for it’s famous beaches such in Hurghada or Sharm El Sheikh. In the meanwhile, a multitude of deadly occurrences has put the international tourism industry on edge. Many tour operators cut their Egypt program either entirely or in the very least cut it down drastically.

This incident is another giant blow for the country the hosts amazing historic sites such as the Sphinx and the Pyramids of Gizeh.

The BBC reported about the matter (access here) and how it allegedly came to be.

Security forces in Egypt have mistakenly killed 12 people, including Mexican tourists, during an anti-terror operation, the interior ministry says.

The tourists were travelling in four vehicles that entered a restricted zone in the Wahat area of the Western Desert, a ministry statement said.

Ten Mexicans and Egyptians were also injured and are being treated in a local hospital. The Mexican foreign ministry confirmed that at least two of its nationals had been killed and said it was working to confirm the identities of the other victims. …

The statement (in Arabic) from Egypt’s interior ministry said the four vehicles the tourists were travelling in were “mistakenly dealt with” during a joint military police and armed forces operation.

It said the incident happened on Sunday in an area that “was off limits to foreign tourists” but it did not give an exact location.

The tour company transporting the tourists “did not have permits and did not inform authorities”, tourism ministry spokesman Rasha Azaz told the AP news agency.

The vast Western Desert area is popular with foreign sightseers, but is also attractive to militants, reports the BBC’s Orla Guerin in Cairo.

This is a serious and sad situation. One has to acknowledge that this incident is a mix of negligence, unfortunate circumstances and highlights the importance of hiring trustworthy tour operators when visiting such dangerous areas. IT was obviously complete incompetence from the security forces involved but keep in mind these guys are probably get fired at during many occasions. I can see the rationale of them being on edge.

A number of Travel Advisories / Warnings from various governments are still in effect and some have been updated.

Advisory of the U.S. Department of State

Advisory of the British Home Office

Advisory of the Government of Canada

Advisory of the German Government – Auswaertiges Amt

All of these pretty much have the consensus of postponing all non essential travel to Egypt.

Conclusion

Certain parts of the world bear tremendous danger and while I’m not easily scared through the mainstream media I still avoid traveling to regions and areas that are prone to terrorism. I don’t see any reason why tourists going to Egypt at this time have to roam around in the middle of the desert along border regions.

No responsible tour operator would offer such a service at the moment, totally aside the fact that the company in this matter allegedly doesn’t even have a proper license. I strongly urge travelers visiting high risk countries either for tourism or business to consult their governments travel advisories and follow the suggested guidelines as well as (most importantly) their own common sense.

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