American and Czech soldiers are under investigation in connection with the
death of an Afghan commando who was beaten while in NATO custody in western
Afghanistan, the New York Times reported on Monday.
The commando, Wahidullah Khan, was accused of killing a Czech soldier last month in one of four deadly insider attacks this year by Afghan forces on NATO troops. Jan Pejšek, a spokesman for the Czech Ministry of Defence, has confirmed the ongoing investigation, but strongly denied accusations that Czech troops were involved in Mr. Khan’s death.
On October 22, Khan opened fire on a group of Czech soldiers at Shindand air base, in western Afghanistan. The attack killed one Czech soldier and wounded two others. He was arrested by Afghan troops and was taken into custody by Western forces. By the time he was returned to Afghan forces, around midnight, he had been beaten and was unconscious, Afghan officials said.
The Czech minister of foreign affairs, Tomáš Petříček, has described
Russia as “dangerous”. In an interview with Czech Radio, Mr.
Petříček said Moscow was increasingly assertive and represented a danger
as it was spreading disinformation and employing various hybrid threats.
The minister, who was appointed last month, said Russia was a genuine risk to the Czech Republic and other European Union states, adding that reports of the threat posed by Moscow from the Czech intelligence service ought to be taken very seriously.
Mr. Petříček said the Czech Republic should not “wait with its hands on its lap” but should tackle such threats more effectively. He said it was necessary to boost strategic communication and the combating of disinformation within the framework of the EU.
The chief of the General Staff of the Czech Army, Aleš Opata, visited
Czech troops in Iraq and Mali between Wednesday and Friday. In Iraq General
Opata met instructors from the Czech chemical forces, military police and
regular police, as well as flying instructors teaching local pilots in the
use of Czech-made jets.
While in Mali the Czech Army chief met soldiers in the capital Bamako tasked with providing protection to a European Union training mission, a spokesperson for the General Staff told the Czech News Agency.
Speaking to journalists following his address to the Peace Forum in Paris,
Prime Minister Babiš said that in the past Czech troops had been directly
involved in NATO’s combat operations against international terrorism and
it might be time to consider sending them into direct combat again.
He said this was a sensitive political decision that would have to be discussed both at home and with the country’s NATO allies.
At present Czech troops are serving in a number of foreign missions, such as Afghanistan and Mali, where they are involved mainly in training of local security forces and patrolling.
The body of another Czech soldier killed in Afghanistan was laid to rest on
Wednesday. The funeral took place in his hometown, Prachatice, with full
Corp.Tomáš Procházka, who was 42 and specialised in dog training, was shot dead on October 22 while returning from a routine mission outside his base in Herat Province. Two other Czech soldiers were injured in the attack.
He was the fourth Czech soldier killed in Afghanistan this year. The first three died in a suicide bomb attack while on a patrol in early August.
Prime Minister and ANO party leader Andrej Babiš has ruled out the
withdrawal of Czech soldiers from Afghanistan. Speaking at a security
conference in Prague, Mr Babiš said that the Czech Republic won’t fail
its allies and will continue fulfil its obligations.
His words came in reaction to criticism of Czech participation in the
Afghani mission from some Czech parties following the death of several
Czech soldiers in the past few months.
Mr Babiš also said the country had committed to increase defence spending with a view to reach the equivalent of two percent of gross domestic product by the year 2024.
The fifth edition of the annual conference, called ‘Our security cannot be taken for granted,’ takes place at Prague Castle on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia. It is attended by top army and Defence Ministry representatives.
An Afghan soldier opened fire on a Czech military vehicle on Monday, killing one and injuring two more members of the Czech military mission in Afghanistan. The attack is just the latest incident that has claimed Czech soldiers’ lives and the prime minister has called for more effective countermeasures.
One of the five Czech soldiers injured in a suicide bomb blast in
Afghanistan last week is to be flown back to the Czech Republic for further
A spokesperson for the Czech Armed Forces said the soldier’s condition now enabled transport and the army would send out a special plane to bring him home.
He suffered serious injuries in the blast and has already undergone several operations.