June 18, 2011 / 3:29 PM / 9 years ago

Egypt army stops protesters entering Suez Canal office

ISMAILIA, Egypt (Reuters) - Egyptian troops fired shots in the air on Saturday to prevent hundreds of protesting employees of Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority from storming into its office in Ismailia, witnesses said.

Many employees at canal authority offices in the cities of Ismailia, Suez and Port Said have been staging protests for five days asking for higher pay and better work conditions.

“The workers were trying to get inside the canal administration office when an officer came out of a tank and fired around 15 shots in the air and dispersed the crowd,” one eyewitness from Ismailia told Reuters on Saturday.

A canal authority official said shipping in the sea lane, a vital conduit for oil exports and one of the most important sources of foreign currency for Egypt, was not affected.

Suez Canal employees have been among the civil servants and workers who have gone on strike at businesses and factories across Egypt since the toppling of autocratic president Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising on Feb 11.

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