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Egypt boosts Suez security as foiled attack underscores threats

Egyptian authorities moved to bolster security along the Suez Canal after a foiled attack on a container ship traversing the waterway that handles about 8 percent of world trade spotlighted new threats confronting officials after Mohammed Morsi’s ouster.

The failed Friday attack on the Panama-registered Cosco Asia didn’t damage the ship or its cargo, Suez Canal Authority head Mohab Mamish said in a statement yesterday. The military dealt “decisively” with the attempt, he said, without giving details.

The maritime incident underscored the threats in the country as the military-backed government pursues an offensive against the Muslim Brotherhood and militants following Morsi’s July 3 ouster. More than 1,000 people have died, most of them supporters of the toppled Islamist leader who were killed in a single week in August amid clashes with security forces.

“Events like this increase the confusion and cause international embarrassment,” said Adel Soliman, head of the private Strategic Dialogue Forum research institute. “You have a state of turbulence in the street under which anything can happen.”

Authorities are already grappling at once with quashing the Brotherhood who see Morsi’s ouster as a “coup” while the military presses on with a campaign aimed at purging the strategic Sinai Peninsula of insurgents, some inspired by al-Qaida.

After the Islamist was pushed from power, Egypt declared a state of emergency and enforced a curfew that’s since been eased – all in what has been a largely successful bid to quash the protests led by the Brotherhood and their Islamist allies.

Morsi will face trial in a Cairo criminal court along with 14 Muslim Brotherhood leaders for “inciting violence and killing” in events that occurred near the el-Itihadiya palace in Cairo on Dec. 5, news agency MENA reported, citing Prosecutor Mohamed Hisham.

A Brotherhood call for protests on Friday fizzled because security authorities prevented demonstrators from rallying in a single location.

The group said in an emailed statement yesterday that “the era of sleep and rest is over until we take back the revolution.”

Authorities yesterday ordered Sobhi Saleh, another Brotherhood leader, held for 15 days pending investigation after he was arrested in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria. Saleh faces allegations including inciting violence, according to the Alexandria prosecutor’s office said in a faxed statement yesterday.

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