The British Foreign Office (FCO) increased the terror threat level in the Sinai on Friday, and has advised against all but essential travel to the peninsula.
A FCO spokesperson said, “we can confirm that on 2 November we amended our Travel Advice for Egypt. Our advice makes clear that there is a high threat from terrorism in Egypt.”The terror threat level has risen from ‘general’ to ‘high’ in response to a number of incidents in the Sinai. There are also reports that police in the Sinai thwarted a terrorist plot organised by Al-Qaeda last week.
The FCO travel advice refers to a number of incidents in the Sinai including, “14 separate bomb attacks since February 2011 on the gas pipeline and terminals in North Sinai neat the town of Al-Arish.”
The FCO advises against all travel to the North Sinai governorate and all but essential travel to the majority of the South Sinai governorate, including St. Catherine’s monastery at Mount Sinai. An exception has been made for the eastern coastal region which is home to popular tourist resorts such as Sharm El-Sheikh, Dahab and Nuweiba.
The FCO website states, “although security is tight throughout the country, especially in resort areas, there remains a high risk of attacks, which could be indiscriminate.”
President Mohamed Morsy launched a military operation in August to counter the security threat in the Sinai following an attack on army check point on 5 August which killed 16 Egyptian soldiers. There have been a number of attacks on police, military and government officials, including a military vehicle being hijacked and the theft of EGP 150 thousand from members of the Fisheries Authority.
The FCO spokesperson said, “we are aware of media reports that police raids have been conducted in Egypt and a number of terrorism related arrests have been made.”
The United States Department of State travel advice also warns tourists against overland travel in the Sinai Peninsula, particularly highlighting the North Sinai governorate.
Sinai tourism is a key source of income for Egypt. Since the 25 January revolution, tourist numbers have dropped around the whole of Egypt.