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US Embassy in Cairo closes amid protests

The US Embassy in Cairo closed Thursday after fighting between protesters and police blocked access to the building.

Egypt protests morsi decree courts stop work november 28 2012Enlarge
Protesters run as they face Egyptian riot Police during clashes on Omar Makram street, off Tahrir Square, on November 28, 2012 in Cairo. Police fired tear gas into Cairo's Tahrir Square, where several hundred protesters spent the night after a mass rally to denounce President Mohamed Morsi's assumption of expanded powers. (GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images)

The US Embassy in Cairo closed Thursday after fighting between protesters and police blocked access to the building.

According to CBS News reporter Alex Ortiz, protesters didn't seem to be attacking the embassy itself, but rather were targeting riot police in the confrontations near the diplomatic building. Most staff had gone home already, and the embassy was closed for all American citizen services.

In addition to the embassy closure, US citizens were also "strongly urged" to avoid the area, reported USA Today.

Protests began in Cairo in the past week after President Mohamed Morsi issued a decree that gave him sweeping extralegal powers. Demonstrators have also been protesting the country's constitution, which was being decided upon in an earlier-than-expected vote today.

More from GlobalPost: Egyptian Constitution: Assembly votes on final draft today

"Access into and from the embassy is currently blocked by protesters," said a statement on the embassy website. "The Regional Security Office has instructed that no departures or arrivals from the embassy will be permitted."

According to UPI, activists are concerned that a "second revolution" could start because of the democratically elected Islamist president's decree.

Morsi remains resolute that his decree, which places him above oversight of any kind, including by the courts, are in the interest of Egypt's transition to democratic rule, noted CBS News.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/egypt/121129/us-embassy-cairo-closes-amid-protests