updated 3/26/2008 9:20:32 AM ET 2008-03-26T13:20:32

The United States acknowledged Wednesday that an Egyptian citizen was killed when a U.S. Navy-contracted ship fired warning shots at approaching motor boats in the Suez Canal.

In the immediate aftermath of the late Monday incident, the U.S. embassy in Cairo and the U.S. Navy maintained that according to the security team aboard the vessel, the Global Patriot, there were no casualties. But on Wednesday, an embassy statement said it "appears that an Egyptian in the boat was killed by one of the warning shots."

The shots apparently killed Mohammed Fouad, who was buried Tuesday amid expressions of anger against the Egyptian government and the U.S. by family members.

The Navy has been cautious about small boats getting near its warships since al-Qaida suicide attackers rammed an explosives-packed motorboat into the USS Cole off Yemen, killing 17 sailors in 2000. Cmdr. Lydia Robertson, spokeswoman for the Bahrain-based U.S. 5th Fleet, said cargo ships sailing under contract to the Navy follow the same rules of engagement as American warships in dealing with approaching boats.

The Global Patriot, a civilian ship under short-term contract to the Navy, was approached by small motor boats that often conduct informal commerce with canal shipping.

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

Tuesday's statement added that "all shots were accounted for as they entered the water."

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