Czech officials have strongly condemned the weekend attacks by suspected Palestinian extremists in Jerusalem. President Havel said he was horrified by the news and considered this new wave of violence a big step back in the Middle East peace process. A spokesman for the Czech Foreign Ministry called for an end to the violence and urged both sides to respect internationally approved resolutions and go back to the negotiating table to resolve this fresh crisis. 27 people were killed and over 200 injured within hours of each other in horrific suicide bombings over the weekend . Palestinian President Jassir Arafat declared a state of emergency in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Sunday. At the same time, the Israel army imposed a complete blockade of the Palestinian territories.
The committee for security and cooperation with Europe of the US Congress has expressed concern regarding the case of the jailed Uzbek opposition leader Mukhammed Salikh. Congressman Michael Ochs, who specializes in Central- Asian affairs, has urged the Czech authorities not to extradite Salikh to Uzbekistan where he was likely to be tortured or executed. We realize that the Czech police is acting on the basis of an Interpol arrest warrant but it is important to keep in mind the human rights aspect and the fact that Uzbekistan does not have independent courts, Senator Ochs said in a message made available to the CTK press agency.
The Uzbek opposition leader, who was detained at Prague airport on Wednesday is in jail pending an extradition hearing. Mr. Salikh, who has been sentenced in absentia to 15 years in jail in his homeland for a bomb attack that killed 16 people, lives in exile in Norway and is now reported to have asked the Czech authorities for political asylum.
The smallest Czech commercial TV station TV3 went off the air on Sunday evening on the recommendation of the Czech Radio and TV Council . In the wake of an investor dispute at the station which resulted in a partial blackout the TV3 company and the investor company EMV continued broadcasting programmes for cable and satellite subscribers. The station's license holder RTV Galaxy complained that it was no longer in control of the situation and the Czech Radio and TV Council advised TV3 to go off the air or face a million crown fine for pirate broadcasting.
The methane explosion at a coal-mine near Kladno which killed three miners earlier this week may have been caused by poor ventilation of a stairwell. Vojtech Rasplicka, head of the commission investigating the cause of the tragedy said in a preliminary statement for the press that "a combination of negative factors including poor ventilation and very likely a faulty electricity circuit" had caused the blast. He ruled out the possibility that the miners themselves had endangered their lived by lighting a cigarette in the shaft. Three minors died in the blast and a fourth remains in critical condition with burns over 90 percent of his body.
Over one hundred anarchists met in the southern suburbs of Prague on Sunday to demonstrate against intolerance and neo-Nazism. A heavy police presence prevented clashes with thirty or so neo-Nazis who also turned up for the event. The police confiscated poles and other potential weapons, formed a barrier between the two groups and managed to keep the situation under control. According to the CTK press agency the skinheads and anarchists exchanged only verbal insults.
The British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon is due to arrive in Prague on Monday for a two day visit. He will be meeting with leading Czech officials to discuss the reform of the Czech army, the war against terrorism and the expansion of NATO.
Monday is expected to be foggy, gray and overcast in many parts of the country. If you want to enjoy some sunshine head for the mountains where skies will be clear and skiing conditions are reported to be excellent. Day temps between minus one and plus three degs C.
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