Suez Canal Downgraded, not Terrorism


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Egyptian officials reported Sunday that three individuals who fired machine guns on a Panama-flagged container ship that was passing through the Suez Canal had been arrested. Army sources downgraded the attacks from what Mohab Memish, head of the Suez Canal Authority, originally reported as "terrorism."

The COSCO ASIA was traveling through the northern section of the canal when it came under fire. Though no other details have been provided, the army source says the method of attack would have caused no harm to the ship and those arrested, "have been dealt with."

Ship traffic resumed normal movement shortly after the assault. Yesterday, sources had reported to Reuters that they heard two explosions as the ship traveled through. The unsuccessful assailants apparently had a goal of disrupting commerce and the flow of ships through the busy passage, causing a media frenzy and disgracing Egypt. The Suez Canal is guarded by armed forces, who have issued an order to improve upon security measures, according to Memish. Preventatives such as blocking bridges over the canal have been employed to prevent against threats such as those reported to have been directed at the Suez Canal Authority.

The US Navy sailed the warship San Antonio through the canal Thursday on its way to the Mediterranean to join fellow ships covering the Syria crisis. The canal is a major transit route for trade, especially trafficking in exports from Asia to the West. Egypt depends heavily on the revenue from the waterway which stretches for 120 miles as seen in the accompanying video.

Turmoil in the region is still broiling, including a series of attacks in the North Sinai prompted by the military overthrow of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on 3 July after mass protests in the country. Over 1,000 people have died in protests demanding Morsi's reinstatement; security officers make up 100 of those deaths.

[Image via Wikimedia Commons.]