UPDATE 2 – All embassies in Cairo “highly secured” – Cairo security director

Monday 08-12-2014 04:36 PM
UPDATE 2 – All embassies in Cairo “highly secured” – Cairo security director

People watch the the inaugural parade of President Barack Obama from atop the Canadian Embassy in Washington January 21, 2013. REUTERS/Larry Downing


CAIRO, Dec 8 (Aswat Masriya) – All embassies in Cairo are “highly secured”, the Cairo security director said on Monday, shortly after the Canadian Embassy in Cairo announced the suspension of its services.

“The ability to provide consular services may occasionally be limited for short periods due to unsettled security conditions,” the embassy posted on its official website, one day after a similar move from the British Embassy.

Cairo Security Director Ali al-Demerdash told Aswat Masriya that security apparatuses have not received any reports from the foreign ministry or the Canadian embassy in regards to any threats in the downtown neighbourhood of Garden City. Both the Canadian and the UK embassies are located in Garden City.

Demerdash stressed that the Garden City neighbourhood is “completely secured”.

The British Embassy in Cairo suspended on Sunday public services due to "security considerations", according to an embassy spokesperson. He added that the decision was taken “to ensure the security of the embassy and its staff."

UK Ambassador John Casson said in a statement on Monday that the embassy is working to “restore full services as quickly as possible and to keep British Nationals in Egypt and other customers informed.”

"I am grateful for the close and ongoing cooperation with the Egyptian government to achieve this," Casson added.

The German Embassy in Cairo announced on its website the closure of its visa office on Thursday. 

Magdy el-Sayed, the embassy's media relations manager, said the closure is due to a training course that will be held in the office. He denied that it is related to the closure of the UK and Canadian embassies.

A ministry of interior media officer told Aswat Masriya on Monday that the embassies’ closure is a matter which concerns Egypt’s foreign ministry.

Badr Abdelatty, Egypt's foreign ministry spokesman described the closure of the UK embassy in a press statement on Sunday as a "precautionary security measure."

Abdelatty was not available for further comment on Monday.

A security source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters on Sunday that a recently-detained suspected militant had confessed to Egyptian authorities "plans to target foreign embassies."

The UK embassy spokesperson told Aswat Masriya he cannot comment on such "speculations".

In a travel advice to Egypt posted on Saturday, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs advised its citizens to “reconsider [their] need to travel” to Egypt overall, while advising against travel to North Sinai.

“Reports of early December 2014 indicate that terrorists may be planning attacks against tourist sites, government ministries and embassies in Cairo,” the travel advice read.

Militants have stepped up attacks targeting security forces in Egypt, particularly in the Sinai Peninsula, since the army's ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July 2013, which followed mass protests against his rule.

At least 30 military personnel were killed in a suicide blast which targeted a security checkpoint in Sinai's Sheikh Zuweid on October 24, in the worst militant attack since Mursi's ouster.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which has changed its name to Sinai Province since pledging allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria, claimed responsibility for the attack in a video released on November 14.

The group claimed last week responsibility for the killing of an American petroleum engineer who was found dead in a car in the desert last August.

In a security message issued on Thursday, the United States embassy advised its citizens to "carefully scrutinise their personal movements and consider staying close to their residences and neighborhoods over the coming period." The embassy cited clashes at several universities and Cairo neighbourhoods as one of the reasons for its message.

The UK embassy did not specify when it will resume its public services in Cairo. The British consulate in Alexandria is nevertheless normally operating, the embassy's website said.

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