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Page last updated at 09:47 GMT, Wednesday, 26 March 2008

US admits to Suez canal killing

The Global Patriot (image from Global Container Lines website)
The ship was reportedly carrying used military equipment

US officials have said an Egyptian was killed when a ship contracted to the US navy fired warning shots at approaching boats in the Suez Canal on Monday.

US officials had previously maintained that there were no casualties.

Mohammed Fouad was buried on Tuesday amid expressions of anger against the Egyptian government and the US.

A US embassy statement issued on Wednesday said: "It appears that an Egyptian in the boat was killed by one of the warning shots."

According to the US account of the incident, the Global Patriot - on short-term charter to the US military - was approached by several boats as it prepared to enter the Suez Canal after dark on Monday.

Map

Warning shots were fired from the ship.

"The boats were hailed and warned by a native Arabic speaker using a bullhorn to warn them to turn away. A warning flare was then fired," the embassy statement said.

"One small boat continued to approach the ship and received two sets of warning shots 20-30 yards in front of the bow."

Egyptian officials and witnesses say that two others were injured in the shooting.

Hawkers

According to the US Navy's Military Sealift Command (MSC), the Global Patriot is a US-flagged roll-on, roll-off container ship chartered from Global Container Lines.

In is used by the MSC to transport US military equipment around the world.

The BBC's Heba Saleh in Cairo says fisherman and small boats carrying hawkers ply the waters of the canal trying to sell cigarettes and other local products to ships passing through.

Al-Qaeda militants have in the past used small motorboats to attack US military and other foreign vessels in waters off the coast of Yemen, our correspondent adds.

Some 7.5% of world sea trade passes through the Suez Canal, which is 190km long (118 miles) and 120m wide (395ft) at its narrowest point.


SEE ALSO
US examines Suez Canal shooting
25 Mar 08 |  Middle East
Suez: End of empire
24 Jul 06 |  Middle East
Two dead in Suez canal accident
13 Sep 06 |  Middle East
Suez canal reopens after blockage
09 Feb 06 |  Middle East
Country profile: Egypt
24 May 01 |  Country profiles

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