Canada joins UK in closing Cairo embassy to public over 'security'

An policeman stands guard on the top of an armoured vehicle in Cairo on February 16, 2014 (AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki)

Cairo (AFP) - Canada on Monday joined Britain in closing its embassy in Cairo to the public for security reasons, with neither country providing details about any specific threat.

The move comes amid increasing attacks by Islamist militants in Egypt and calls from the extremist Islamic State (IS) group for attacks on Western targets.

The Canadian embassy said in a statement that it would be closed "due to security reasons" on Monday, with a separate email to Canadian citizens in Egypt saying this would be the case "until further notice".

The British embassy also remained closed after shutting its public services on Sunday.

British Ambassador John Casson said the decision had been taken "to ensure the security of the embassy and our staff".

"We are working to restore full services as quickly as possible," he said.

Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty said he was unaware "of any specific threat" to these embassies.

"They informed us that it is a precautionary action ...but we are dealing with the matter seriously," he told AFP.

"Our security apparatus is applying maximum security measures on the ground and we hope that the embassies do not exaggerate the matter out of context."

Both countries have previously issued warnings to their citizens against travel to restive areas of Egypt including parts of the Sinai Peninsula, where the Ansar Beit al-Maqdis militant group has pledged allegiance to IS.

The US embassy, which like the two others is located in downtown Cairo, remained open Monday.

Foreign missions have stepped up security measures since last year's ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi prompted a rise in militant attacks targeting Egyptian security forces.

No foreign missions nor interests have so far been directly targeted.

Most attacks have been in the Sinai Peninsula, but several deadly blasts have also been set off in Cairo and other cities.

IS, which has captured swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, has called on affiliate groups to target foreign nationals and interests in their countries, especially citizens of countries belonging to a US-led coalition fighting jihadists.

Both Britain and Canada have joined the coalition.