Egypt Military Bolsters Suez Security After Failed Attack

Egyptian authorities ordered increased security along the Suez Canal after foiling an attack on a passing ship, and pressed their crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, arresting another top leader.

The failed attack on the Panama-registered Cosco Asia as it crossed the waterway didn’t damage the ship or its cargo, the state-run Middle East News Agency reported, citing Suez Canal Authority head Mohab Mamish. The military dealt “decisively” with the attempt, he said, without giving details. Canal traffic is normal and 55 ships are expected to cross today, Mamish said, according to the news agency.

The assault on the waterway that handles about 8 percent of world trade comes as the military-backed government pursues an offensive against the Muslim Brotherhood and militants following the July 3 ouster of Mohamed Morsi from the presidency. More than 1,000 people have died, most of them supporters of the toppled Islamist leader who were killed in a single week in August amid clashes with security forces.

Eight people died and 221 were injured in Brotherhood protests Aug. 30, the Health Ministry said. The group, struggling to regain ground lost during the crackdown against its leadership, failed to draw the massive numbers it had been able to marshal in the past as authorities closed off streets and stepped up security to prevent demonstrators from gathering in a single location.

Leaders Arrested

A prominent element of the crackdown has been the arrest of top group members, and yesterday, authorities detained Sobhi Saleh, a senior Brotherhood leader, in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, state-run Ahram Gate reported.

Authorities also arrested a top suspected militant who confessed to killing 25 policemen in theSinai peninsula last month, Ahram Gate said. The militant, known as Adel Habara and sentenced to death in absentia for another attack, recreated the incident for authorities, the news website reported, citing unidentified security officials in Sinai.

The report of an attempted attack on a freighter in the Suez Canal complicates Egypt’s already troubled security situation.

Even under Mursi, authorities had boosted security along the canal, concerned that the political tumult that led to his overthrow would affect traffic through the vital waterway.

The Suez Canal and SUMED pipeline, as the link between Egypt’s ports of Ain Sukhna on the Red Sea and Sidi Kerir on the Mediterranean is known, together handled 3.8 million barrels a day of crude and products, according to 2011 data cited by the International Energy Agency. Most of that traffic was northbound.

Source: Bloomberg