The Czech President, Vaclav Havel, has demanded uncompromising punishment for the terrorists behind Tuesday's terrorist on New York and Washington. Speaking in uncharacteristically sharp language about the attacks, Mr Havel said the crimes must be punished and that it was in the interest of all humanity to make the perpetrators realise that "some things are unacceptable." Mr Havel also expressed concern that the looming conflict would lead to the formation of new blocs along not only political but cultural lines. President Havel said the Czech Republic, which joined NATO in March 1999, would fulfil all its duties as a member "out of solidarity" with its ally the United States.
President Havel joined diplomats and politicians on Saturday in attending an ecumenical service for the victims of the attacks at St Vitus Cathedral in Prague Castle. On Friday the Czech Republic joined countries around Europe in a day of mourning for the victims of Tuesday's attacks. Three minutes' of silence was held at noon to remember the dead and injured, and sirens and church bells rang out throughout the country. President Havel also cancelled a planned one-day state visit to Bulgaria.
The leader of the far-right National Social Bloc, Jan Kopal, has said the United States deserved the attacks in retaliation for what he described as the country's role in international terrorism. Speaking at a demonstration against positive discrimination for the country's Roma minority, Mr Kopal said the attacks were revenge for such actions as the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in March 1999. The National Social Bloc is a new organisation bringing together several far-right groups, and has a strong skinhead following.
The country's national carrier, Czech Airlines (CSA), has said the first flights to the U.S. and Canada since Tuesday have been subjected to long delays. A flight to New York - scheduled to take off at lunchtime - was delayed for almost five hours. A spokesman for the airline said the delays were being caused by new strict security measures, adding that in some cases it was taking up to half an hour to process each passenger at check-in. Passengers to the United States and Canada are prohibited from taking any form of electrical devices on board. CSA has set up a special number for passengers enquiring about flights to North America - (02) 2010 4310.
Turning to other news now, and two Czech girls were prevented from boarding a flight to London on Friday by British immigration officers stationed at Prague's Ruzyne Airport. British immigration officials have been in place at the airport for several months, to prevent what it says is the deliberate abuse of its asylum system by some Czech citizens. Several thousand Czech Romanies have arrived in Britain in recent years seeking asylum, although London denies the measures are targeted deliberately at citizens of Roma origin. Since introducing the measures, Britain has turned away around 150 Czech citizens.
Police have arrested 15 members of a gang believed to have smuggled as many as 1,800 Chinese illegal immigrants over the last two years across the Czech border into the European Union. A police spokeswoman said eight of the 15 arrested on Tuesday morning were foreigners, mostly of Asian origin. Police also detained 35 illegal immigrants in apartments in Prague, who were waiting to be taken to the Czech border. Czech officers worked together with police from Germany, Britain and France before raiding the gang.
The Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman was released from hospital on Friday after five days of treatment for kidney stones. A government spokesman said that Mr Zeman would be able to return to work on Monday. Mr Zeman, who is 56, has a history of kidney problems. He was admitted to hospital last year with acute back pain related to his kidney ailments.
Operators at the country's controversial Temelin nuclear power plant restarted the plant's reactor on Saturday, following a brief shutdown for tests and maintenance. A spokesman said the reactor would be kept at minimal operating levels for several hours to allow technicians to reconnect the plant's generator. Temelin, which has suffered a number of teething problems since being launched last year, is heavily opposed by neighbouring Germany and Austria.
The Czech Republic have lost to Italy in the semi-finals of the world volleyball championships being held in the eastern town of Ostrava. The Czechs lost 3:0, and go on to play the winner of Saturday evening's other semi-final match between Yugoslavia and Russia for a chance of winning the bronze medal.
And finally, a quick look at the weather. Sunday and Monday will see a band of cold air continue to move in from the north-west, bringing with it more cloudy weather and the occasional shower. Temperatures in the daytime will range from 10 to 16 degrees Celsius, falling at night to lows of 6 degrees Celsius.
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