CAIRO — Western embassies, amid threat of an Al Qaida-aligned attack, have been suspending operations in Egypt.
At least two Western embassies have closed while others were restricting operations in Cairo. In a 24-hour period, Britain and Canada said they were closing their embassies for security reasons.
“Public services at the British embassy are currently suspended,” British ambassador John Casson said on Dec. 8. “We have taken this decision to ensure the security of the embassy and our staff.”
Neither Casson nor other diplomats provided details of the security threat. Over the last two months, Al Qaida and Islamic State of Iraq and Levant issued a series of warnings against Western embassies and schools in the Middle East.
“There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attacks globally against UK interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria,” the British Foreign Office said. “You should be vigilant at this time.”
On Dec. 8, Canada said it was closing its embassy in Cairo for security reasons. Diplomats said it was unclear when the embassy would reopen.
“The ability to provide consular services may occasionally be limited for short periods due to unsettled security conditions,” the Canadian embassy said.
The Australian embassy in Cairo has warned nationals of insurgency attacks in Egypt. The embassy, which has not closed, said targets could include tourist and government sites.
“Terrorist attacks could occur at anytime, anywhere in Egypt, including in tourist areas,” the Australian embassy said on Dec. 6. “Some past attacks have coincided with local holiday weekends.”
The U.S. embassy, the largest in the city, has remained open in Cairo. But the embassy has warned staffers to stay close to home amid clashes between security forces and the Muslim Brotherhood.
“In light of the heightened tensions and recent attacks on Westerners in the region, the U.S. embassy has recommended that its staff carefully scrutinize their personal movements and consider staying close to their residences and neighborhoods over the coming period,” the U.S. embassy said on Dec. 4.