US embassy in Cairo releases security message ahead of holiday season

Ahram Online, Monday 16 Dec 2013

American residents in Egypt are urged to avoid sites of demonstrations and to take appropriate security measures

Cairo University
Students of Cairo University, who are supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, shout slogans against the military and interior ministry during a demonstration in front of at the main gate of the university in Cairo December 9, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

The American embassy in Cairo issued a statement on Monday warning its residents in Egypt to continue to be vigilant about the security situation in the country.

According to the notice, two US citizens were targeted by abduction attempts this week, including one carjacking incident. However, it added that there was no indication that the victims have been targeted due to their nationality.

"While statistics are unavailable, local press reports of carjackings throughout the country are reported with some frequency, with perpetrators apparently targeting higher end SUVs."

"While the majority of these carjackings generally occur during late night/early morning hours, they can happen anywhere at any time. In some cases, it appears vehicles (mostly newer four wheel- drives) are specifically targeted and ultimately ransomed back to the owner," adds the statement.

The notice also advises US citizens to be aware of ongoing protests.

"Demonstrations continue throughout the country, oftentimes accompanied by sporadic exchanges of violence between protestors and security forces and/or residents... While none of the violence associated with these demonstrations was directed at Westerners, it did take place in the vicinity of many US citizen homes," it states.

The embassy further pointed that in Cairo, US embassy personnel have been warned to avoid sites of demonstrations, including major universities.

Universities have become a scene of frequent demonstrations since the beginning of the academic year in September.

Pro-Morsi student groups have been staging regular protests at Al-Azhar University in Cairo after a police crackdown on student protests and a number of student arrests.

Non-Islamist students in Cairo University have also been protesting since the death of a Cairo University student allegedly shot by police at a protest in late November.

The embassy personnel also require prior security permissions for any movements outside Cairo or Alexandria, according to the statement.

"While flights to Egyptian resorts, such as Sharm Al-Sheikh and Hurghada, or to tourist destinations such as Luxor and Aswan tend to be safe, US citizens should carefully consider the safety and prudence of overland travel," added the statement.

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