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US Embassy warns its citizens against visiting Christian sites outside Cairo

The US Embassy in Egypt warned American citizens against visiting religious sites outside the greater Cairo area in a statement on Monday.

“Terrorists have attacked targets associated with the Christian community in Egypt. Incidents have occurred in both urban and isolated settings. Additional attacks may be possible,” the statement asserted.

The Embassy referred to a travel warning released by the US State Department on December 23, 2016, restricting diplomatic personnel from traveling to Egypt’s Western Desert and Sinai Peninsula beyond the tourist resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, due to the presence of militant groups operating in the area.

In its statement on Monday, the Embassy recognized the efforts taken by the Egyptian government to protect Egyptian citizens and foreign visitors, but warned US citizens could still be targeted.

“Until further notice, personnel assigned to the US Mission in Egypt are prohibited from visiting religious sites outside greater Cairo. US citizens residing in or visiting Egypt should take prudent steps to enhance their personal security and strictly follow the security guidance available in the aforementioned travel warning for Egypt.”

In early October 2016, the US, UK, Germany and Canada all released warnings to citizens to avoid large public gatherings in Egypt. Although the US State Department and Embassy regularly issue such warnings, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry has criticized their reasons for doing so in the past.

The Embassy advised US citizens traveling to Egypt to register their plans with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which allows the nearest embassy or consulate to remain in contact with them if necessary.