Update on the Suez CanalSeptember 3, 2013 in Egypt
Following the failed attack on the Panama-flagged shipping vessel COSCO ASIA in the Suez Canal, Egyptian authorities have bolstered security along the waterway.
Suez Canal Authority Chairman Mohab Mamish said in a statement that the military dealt “decisively” with the 31 August attempt, but gave no further details. It is known that three gunmen were arrested for opening fire on the ship, and investigations are ongoing. Sources within the Suez Canal Authority indicated that a rocket-propelled grenade had been used in the attempt; there was no damage to the ship or its cargo. It is believed that the attack was most likely conducted by foreigners, or Egyptians working with foreigners, from bases in the North Sinai.
Egyptian authorities, meanwhile, have elevated security along the Canal Zone. Commander of the Third Field Army has announced that the waterway and the ships transiting the canal are completely secure. While Egypt is under national curfew until 31 August, authorities stress that traffic through the Suez Canal remains unaffected. The Canal Zone is secured by the military, including land, sea and air patrols.
The Egyptian military and interim government are determined to keep traffic in the Suez flowing normally. Authorities have highlighted high-risk areas of threat to the canal and its land-based facilities, and are increasing security. But it is likely that such an incident could happen again. While there is intense security along the canal zone, residential areas could become trading areas for light weapons, free from the scrutiny of authorities.
Ships transiting the region are advised to pay attention to updates and recommendations from local authorities, and maintain a constant security watch.
The Joint War Committee, which is comprised of representatives from the Lloyd’s and IUA company markets, are reviewing the situation to identify whether this attack is indicative of a trend, and whether it was carried out by individuals rather than a group. They have not placed Egypt or the Suez Canal on their list of high-risk areas.
Traffic is currently uninterrupted in the Canal.