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British embassy in Cairo closed for 'security reasons'

Officials gave no indication as to when the embassy would be reopened, but warned people not to approach the building
An Egyptian soldier erects a barbed-wire barricade in central Cairo in 2012 (AFP)

The British embassy in the Egyptian capital Cairo closed its doors on Sunday, citing “security reasons".

The embassy, located in an upmarket neighbourhood of central Cairo, gave no indication as to whether a specific threat was behind the decision to suspend public services.

The office of the British Consulate-General in Alexandria will remain open, according to the embassy’s official statement.

The statement did not clarify how long the interruption to services is expected to last.

Twice in their 200-word statement, the diplomatic mission warns people to stay away from the embassy building in Cairo.

The UK Foreign Office currently advises against all but essential travel to much of Egypt west of Cairo, amid a deteriorating security situation in much of the country.

It advises against all travel under any circumstances to North Sinai, the restive outlying province on the border with the Gaza Strip where authorities are currently engaged in a crackdown against simmering militancy.

The US embassy in Cairo, situated a 10-minute walk from the British diplomatic headquarters, remained open on Sunday.

However, staff were warned this week to restrict their movements amid an uptick in militant attacks.

"In light of the heightened tensions and recent attacks on Westerners in the region, the US 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 embassy’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security said in a memo

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, the Sinai-based militant group that recently pledged allegiance to Islamic State, on Monday claimed responsibility for the death of William Henderson, a Texan oil worker killed in August during an apparent car-jacking in Egypt’s Western Desert.

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