Canada's embassy in Cairo closed over security concerns

The Canadian embassy in Cairo is keeping its doors closed due to security concerns, the department of foreign affairs said Tuesday.

Foreign Affairs warns travellers in Egypt to avoid demonstrations, military offices

A protester holds an Egyptian national flag as he and others attack the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo on Monday. The Canadian embassy in Cairo is closed because of security concerns due to the ongoing protests. (Khalil Hamra/Associated Press)

The Canadian embassy in Cairo is closed for security reasons, the department of foreign affairs, trade and development said Tuesday. It will remain closed until further notice.

"We take the safety of our personnel and our mission overseas very seriously," a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird told CBC News. "We are monitoring events closely and taking appropriate security measures," Rick Roth wrote in an email.

Roth said beyond that there would be no comment on specific precautions at Canadian missions abroad, and he wouldn't say how many people work in Cairo.

The Canadian embassy in Cairo is closed indefinitely because of security concerns due to the massive protests in the city and throughout Egypt. (Derek Stoffel/CBC News)

CBC's Derek Stoffel, reporting from Cairo, said there were two security guards stationed at the embassy Tuesday and there was a heavy Egyptian police presence in front of the building. Security is tight throughout the area, he said.

Canadians in need of emergency consular assistance in Egypt are advised to call collect 613-996-8885 or email sos@international.gc.ca.

The U.S. embassy in Cairo is also closed. It suspended operations on Sunday in anticipation of the protests and has not re-opened.

Baird issued a statement over the weekend saying he was concerned about the reports of violence in Egypt, and he offered his condolences to the families of victims.

Travellers warned

"Dangerous divisions within Egypt threaten its stability and damage its long-term economic prospects," Baird said in the statement issued on Sunday. "Canada calls on all parties to remain calm and participate in the political process. We urge the government of Egypt to foster more meaningful political participation by the opposition to focus on rebuilding the Egyptian economy. Respect for pluralism and a robust political dialogue are essential if Egypt is to stabilize."

Foreign Affairs is warning travellers in Egypt to avoid demonstrations and gatherings and to stay clear of military offices and facilities. Canadians are also advised to avoid travel to the Sinai Peninsula, Port Said, Suez and Ismailia, with the exception of coastal resorts such as Sharm el-Sheikh.

A protest Sunday to mark the first anniversary of President Mohammed Morsi's inauguration was the largest seen in Egypt in the 2½ years of turmoil since Egyptians first rose up against Hosni Mubarak in January 2011. Millions packed Tahrir Square, the streets outside the Ittihadiya presidential palace and main squares in cities around the country.

The military has issued an ultimatum to Morsi, giving him and the opposition 48 hours to resolve its conflict or else the military will step in with its own plan.

Pro-Morsi supporters are also out on the streets and there have been clashes and violence. State television reported Sunday that at least 16 people have been killed and more than 780 injured.