Suez Canal traffic unaffected by Egypt unrest: Maritime officials

Suez Canal traffic unaffected by Egypt unrest: Maritime officials

Maritime traffic through Egypt's Suez Canal has not been disrupted by recent violence in the canal cities of Port Said and Suez. Fears had been raised over the possible halt of canal traffic after a Greek ferry boat came under fire on Saturday near Port Said Al Ahramonline reported.

The Egyptian transportation ministry and the president of the Port Said Port Authority had earlier denied reports that a Greek ship had been attacked by a group of armed assailants after the port was stormed by anti-government protestors. The Greek embassy in Cairo, however, appeared to verify the attack in a Sunday press statement.

"We confirm that the Greek ship was attacked by armed men during the unrest that hit Port Said city on Friday," a Greek embassy official told Ahram Online. "However, no losses were reported and the ship proceeded with its navigation route shortly afterward."

The embassy statement asserted that Egyptian officials had fully cooperated with their Greek counterparts, taking all necessary measures to protect the vessel.

The Suez Canal has remained fully operational since the eruption of clashes on Friday between anti-government protesters in Port Said and Suez.

The head of the Third Field Army said this morning that the Suez Canal's navigational office is fully functional and that it is monitoring international maritime traffic, according to the Ahram Online's reporter in Suez.

Egypt's armed forces deployed in Suez early on Saturday after seven protesters and a soldier were shot dead in clashes that broke out on the second anniversary of Egypt's January 25 Revolution.

"The halt of operations at the port of Port Said or Suez could negatively affect navigation, since the port provides maritime services to ships traversing the canal," Seood Ahmed of the Suez Canal Authority told Ahram Online. "But it is highly unlikely that traffic will be obstructed."

Following this weekend's clashes, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on Sunday declared a state of emergency in Port Said, Suez and Ismailia, while inviting opposition forces to engage in talks at the Presidential Palace aimed at ending the crisis.

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