(Adds details, background)
CAIRO, Aug 31 (Reuters) - A “terrorist” staged an unsuccessful attack on a container ship passing through the Suez Canal on Saturday, in an attempt to disrupt the flow of ships through the waterway, the head of the Suez Canal Authority Mohab Memish said.
The Suez Canal is a key global shipping line which is secured by the armed forces.
“One of the terrorist elements has carried out a failed attempt to affect the movement of ships in the Suez Canal by targeting one of the passing ships, Cosco Asia,” Memish said in a statement about the Panama-flagged ship.
“The attempt failed completely and there was no damage to the ship or the containers it carried. The situation was dealt with strictly by the armed forces,” he said, adding that the traffic of ships is moving normally.
The statement did not specify what kind of attack it was but shipping sources told Reuters they heard the sound of two explosions as the ship passed through the waterway.
Egypt has faced a string of militant attacks in the lawless North Sinai region after the army, prompted by mass protests, overthrew the country’s first elected Islamist President Mohamed Mursi on July 3.
More than 1,000 people, including 100 security officers, have died in protests demanding the reinstatement of Mursi. The government launched a crackdown on violence and militancy, arresting many leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and Mursi supporters over accusations of inciting violence.
It was not immediately clear whether the attempted attack was related to the ousting of Mursi. U.S. warship the San Antonio passed through the waterway on Thursday to join other ships in the Mediterranean that could be used in any strike against Syria after a suspected chemical weapons attack.
The armed forces have issued an order to strengthen their security measures along the Suez waterway, Memish said.
Reporting by Asma Alsharif; Editing by Alison Williams