Canada reopens embassy in Egyptian capital following days of deadly clashes

Embassy was closed last week over concerns about staff safety

OTTAWA – Canada’s embassy in Egypt has reopened after days of bloody clashes on the streets of Cairo.

But how long the embassy’s doors will stay open remains unclear.

The embassy was closed last week over concerns about staff safety amid growing unrest in the Egyptian capital.

Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs says because security in the vicinity remains volatile, the embassy could be closed again on short notice.

“For security reasons, the Embassy of Canada in Cairo is subject to sporadic closures on short notice,” says a statement on the department’s website.

“The ability to provide consular services may be limited due to unpredictable security and the curfew imposed by Egyptian authorities.”

The department urges Canadians against travelling to Egypt, but also suggests that Canadians who are already there should leave.

“If you are currently in Egypt, consider whether you have a pressing need to remain,” says a travel advisory.

Street battles between Egyptian security forces and supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi that erupted a week ago have claimed nearly 1,000 lives.

Two Canadians remain behind bars in a Cairo detention centre.

London, Ont., doctor Tarek Loubani and Toronto filmmaker John Greyson were detained Friday by Egyptian police.

Friends and family say they were in Cairo after making an unsuccessful attempt to enter Gaza, where Loubani teaches emergency medicine and Greyson was exploring the prospects of making a documentary.

Ottawa has condemned the arrests. Junior foreign affairs minister Lynne Yelich spoke Tuesday with Egypt’s ambassador to Canada about the detentions, but later expressed disappointment when told that the two men would remain behind bars.

On Tuesday, a judge ordered the two Canadians, along with seven other foreign nationals, held for at least two weeks pending an investigation.

Egyptian news sources say the men face a range of accusations, including threatening security and social peace, belonging to an armed gang and being in possession of firearms, ammunition and explosives.

A Cairo lawyer has been hired by family members to represent the two men and fight for an earlier release from custody.