Suez Canal security boosted after Damietta attack

14 Ноя

В статье излагается информация об атаке террористов на судно военного патруля. Компетентные исследователи утверждают, что восточное Средиземноморье часто используется для контрабанды оружия.

Ships transiting the Suez Canal are being shadowed by military helicopters in response to Wednesday’s attack on a naval patrol vessel off Damietta, Egypt.

Turkish paper Haberler quoted a military source saying that border guards had increased security co-operation with the Suez Canal Authority and the navy had secured the northern and southern entrances of the canal. «Suez Canal navigation is totally safe and stable,» the source told the newspaper.

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Five naval personnel were injured, eight remain missing and their vessel set ablaze when they were fired on by men in four boats 40nm off Damietta, which is 64km west of the canal’s Mediterranean entrance at Port Said. The search for the missing men continues, the Egyptian Army said in a statement.

The attacking craft were destroyed by Egyptian air and naval forces, and 32 of the assailants — some of them said to be foreigners — were arrested. The army is treating the unprecedented maritime assault as a terrorist incident.

If this proves to be the case, it represents a worrying introduction of high seas terrorism to the Mediterranean. Weight was given to the theory in the form of a video released two days ago in which masked men dressed in black and white claimed responsibility. According to Italian news agency AGI, the attack was intended to secure the release of prisoners in Egyptian jails.

However, the US Naval Institute’s USNI News noted that the eastern Mediterranean is extensively used by arms smugglers. The journal quoted maritime security consultant Michael Frodl as saying that the attack had probably been carried out from fishing boats delivering weapons to terrorist groups such as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which on Monday pledged allegiance to jihadi extremists the Islamic State. Israeli defence sources have likened the Mediterranean to a «big smuggling tunnel».

Damietta Port Authority (DPA) chairman Rear Admiral Ayman Saleh used DPA’s Facebook page to try to allay fears about maritime security in the region. Adm Saleh said that the port was operating normally under tight security from army, navy and port police.