Egypt’s armed forces have foiled an attempted “terrorist” attack on a container ship passing though the Suez Canal, according to the canal authority. The attack targeted the Panama-flagged Cosco Asia.

“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,” said the head of the canal authority Mohab Memish.  The attack did not disrupt the flow of traffic through the canal the statement added.

The Suez Canal is an important global shipping line through which approximately 7-8 per cent of global seaborne trade flows.

The foiled attack on the ship follows the increasing instability in Egypt since the ousting of former president Mohamed Mursi on 3 July. The violence escalated on 14 August when the country’s security forces cleared the pro-Mursi camps set up in Cairo’s squares. The clashes between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood supporters resulted in hundreds of deaths.

There has also been an increased number of attacks by militant groups in the North Sinai region of Egypt.

The escalating violence has not had a negative impact on the volume of canal traffic, according to the latest statistics from the canal authority. The daily average number of vessels hit 47.3 ships in the first half of August, which compares to the daily average of 44.3 vessels recorded during the first half of 2013. The daily tonnage average through the canal also increased in August. This compares to a fall in traffic and revenue at the beginning of 2013 when riots broke out around Port Said.

Traffic passing through the Suez Canal declined 16 per cent year-on-year in January. Revenue in January fell to $405.1m, a 4 per cent decline on December and a 10 per cent drop, compared with January 2012.

A possible military strike on Syria could result in fresh risks to the canal’s traffic volumes. The Tamarod group, which led the June 30 protests against Mursi, reportedly issued a statement saying the canal should be closed to vessels carrying weapons that support the potential US attack on Syria.