PORT SAID: Egypt marked Saturday the 50th anniversary of the end of the Suez crisis that began saw a British and French airborne invasion of the canal zone shortly after the waterway was nationalized by late President Gamal Abdel Nasser.
Thousands of Egyptians celebrated the event in the Mediterranean port city of Port Said, where most of fighting went on during the war of several weeks.
While people danced and chanted patriotic songs, army units performed a symbolic military parade as thousand others watched from sidewalks and balconies.Egypt s mark Dec. 23 as Port Said Liberation Day.
In summer of 1956, Nasser nationalized the Canal and set up an Egyptian company to run it instead of the mostly French owned company.
The seizure of the canal was widely considered as a blow to the old colonial powers Britain and France, which had helped building it, the act had sparked a war with Britain, France and Israel.
The 190-kilometer (120-mile) canal that was dug by Egyptian peasants under the direction of French engineer Ferdinand de Lesseps, connects the Mediterranean and Red seas and saves ships the longer, costlier route around South Africa.
Egyptian forces fought from the canal zone the British and French troops, that have destroyed the Egyptian air force.
Five days later, their paratroopers captured the northern end of the canal.The Soviet Union intervened to end the fighting by threatening to hit Britain and France with missiles.
Saturday s celebration by locals in this Mediterranean city marks the British forces withdrawal from the canal, returning to their base in Cyprus, which Egyptians consider a historic victory for Port Said and the nation. The date also was considered as the national day for the city.
Israel seized the Suez Canal in 1967, and Egyptian troops stormed across to retake the waterway in a surprise offensive in 1973.