Canadian Embassy in Cairo closes for unspecified security reasons

Canada's Embassy in Cairo is closed today until further notice for security reasons, the second diplomatic mission to shut in two days.

2nd embassy to close in 2 days, with British Embassy still shut

Canada's Embassy in Cairo is closed today until further notice for security reasons, the second diplomatic mission to shut in two days.
The Canadian Embassy in Cairo is closed on Monday because of unspecified security concerns. (Derek Stoffel/CBC News)

"As a security precaution, and to ensure the protection of Canadian staff, we have closed our embassy in Cairo for the day," Adam Hodge, press secretary for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, said Monday.

He gave no reason for the closure, and said the government does not provide specifics about security precautions.

A message on the embassy's website read: "The ability to provide consular services may occasionally be limited for short periods due to unsettled security conditions." It gave no more details.

The British Embassy in Cairo closed to the public on Sunday, also citing security concerns. A notice on its website on Monday said its services remained suspended.

An Egyptian security official told The Associated Press that Canadians asked for all roads around the embassy to be shut down and for more security.

He said they would increase security, but the roads couldn't close.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he wasn't authorized to speak to journalists.

CBC's Middle East correspondent Sasa Petricic said there have been security assessments in recent years that show the Canadian Embassy is particularly vulnerable in comparison to nearby embassies, including the British and American ones.

It is not set back from the street and is vulnerable on two sides, Petricic said. 

Last month, a CBC News investigation showed that the Department of Foreign Affairs failed to spend almost half of the $129 million budgeted for “strengthening security at missions abroad” in 2013-14, leaving $69 million on the table.

Insurgency centred around Sinai Peninsula

Egypt is battling an Islamist insurgency largely centred around the Sinai Peninsula, a strategic area near the border with Israel, Gaza and the Suez Canal.

Insurgent attacks have mostly targeted Egyptian police and soldiers, killing hundreds in the past year, but Egypt's most dangerous militant group, Sinai Province, said last week it was behind the killing of an American oil engineer in the western desert in August.

Smaller bombs also regularly explode in Cairo and the Nile Delta, usually causing limited injuries.

One security source told Reuters on Sunday it was not yet clear what threats had prompted the British Embassy to close its doors. But another source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a suspected militant who was recently detained by Egyptian authorities had confessed to plans to target foreign embassies.

The U.S. Embassy was open as usual, a spokesman said. It released a statement on Dec. 4 warning staff not to stray too far from their homes.

Australia also updated its travel advice to Egypt on Dec. 6, because of reports early in the month indicating that "terrorists may be planning attacks against tourist sites, government ministries and embassies in Cairo".

"We continue to advise against all travel to the governorate of North Sinai. We continue to advise Australians to reconsider their need to travel elsewhere in Egypt due to ongoing political tension and the threat of terrorist attack," it said.

With files from CBC News and The Associated Press


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?