Canada closes Cairo embassy until further notice for security reasons

OTTAWA – Canada has shut down its embassy in Cairo as civil unrest continues to rock Egypt.

“As a security precaution and to ensure the protection of all staff, we have closed our embassy in Cairo until further notice,” Rick Roth, a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, said in an email.

The embassy itself posted a one-line notice of closure on its website.

Cairo has seen throngs of protesters in recent days demanding the ouster of embattled Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.

The country’s military is demanding that Morsi meet the demands of the mass protest, and has given him 48 hours to take action.

“Canada is deeply concerned by reports of violence in Egypt that has claimed a number of lives and left many more persons injured,” Roth wrote.

“Dangerous divisions within Egypt threaten its stability and damage its long-term economic prospects.”

Canada is asking all parties to remain calm and participate in the political process.

The embassy is urging visitors to Egypt to exercise a high degree of caution due to what it calls the unpredictable security situation and continued demonstrations.

It advises against travel to the Sinai Peninsula, with the exception of coastal resorts such as Sharm El Sheikh, and also warns against going to Port Said, Suez and Ismailia due to potentially violent demonstrations.

Roth said the safety of Canadian embassy personnel is a key concern.

“We are monitoring events closely and taking appropriate security measures.”

He did not spell out what those security measures might involve.