- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 27, 2008

U.S. killed Egyptian

The U.S. Embassy in Egypt yesterday expressed “deepest condolences” to the family of an Egyptian man killed Monday when a U.S.-chartered supply ship fired warning shots at a small boat that sailed too close to the larger vessel.

Mohammed Fouad was buried on Tuesday, as mourners shouted their anger at both the U.S. and Egyptian governments.

The embassy explained that the supply ship, the Global Patriot, fired the warning shots at the small boat as the ship was preparing to enter the Suez Canal. The boat, which sailed to within 30 yards of the supply ship, ignored the shots and an earlier warning by a native Arabic speaker using a bullhorn on board the Global Patriot.

The U.S. Navy also apologized and promised to help Mr. Fouad’s family. The Navy regularly deploys security detachments on vessels chartered for U.S. supply missions and has been vigilant against small boats since 2000 when al Qaeda terrorists used a small craft in a suicide attack against the USS Cole in Yemen. The explosion killed 17 sailors and injured 39 others.

“The Global Patriot was approached by several boats while preparing to transit the Suez Canal,” the embassy said. “The boats were hailed and warned by a native Arab-speaker, using a bullhorn to warn them to turn away. A warning flare was then fired. One small boat continued to approach the ship and received two sets of warning shots.”

“We express our deepest condolences to the family of the deceased,” the embassy said.

The U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet Command is investigating what the Navy called a “tragic” accident and is cooperating with Egyptian authorities, the embassy said.

“We are greatly saddened by events that apparently resulted in this accidental death,” Vice Adm. Kevin J. Cosgriff, the fleet commander, said in a separate statement. “The situation is tragic, and we will do our utmost to help take care of the family of the deceased.”

U.S. Ambassador Francis J. Ricciardone Jr., addressing the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt on Tuesday, also promised a complete investigation.

“We regret if there are victims, but we have to know what really happened from both sides,” he said.

In Washington, Egyptian Ambassador Nabil Fahmy said, “This is no doubt a regrettable incident, which resulted in several casualties.”

He said Egypt has “taken note” of the U.S. explanations and will open its own investigation.

Women’s power

Women in Kenya showed their power by demanding an end to the violent political crisis, even as many huddled in refugee camps after losing their families and homes, the U.S. ambassador in Nairobi said as he commemorated International Women’s Day.

“As we know too well, the recent crisis and the violence which accompanied it caused great pain and suffering in Kenya,” Ambassador Michael E. Ranneberger said at a reception at his diplomatic residence earlier this month.

“Women and their children suffered the most. In my visits to displaced-person camps, I have been deeply touched by the resilience and strength of women, who have often lost everything, and impressed by their desire to pick up the pieces and build a better future for themselves and their families.”

He praised women for playing a “crucial role” in resolving the crisis that started after the Dec. 27 re-election of President Mwai Kibaki. His leading opponent, Raila Odinga, claimed Mr. Kibaki stole the election, and soon supporters of each side clashed in deadly street battles throughout the East African nation. More than 800 people died and 600,000 lost their homes before the crisis eased in February.

“The voices of mothers, sisters and daughters of Kenya reverberated with the leadership of both sides,” Mr. Ranneberger said, praising groups such as Vital Voices Global Partnership, Women for Peace and Justice, and the International Federation of Women Lawyers.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@ washingtontimes.com.

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