News that the British Secret Service had foiled a terrorist plot of immense proportions on Thursday sent shock-waves around the world, and once again heightened awareness of the global threat of terrorism. At Prague's international airport -Ruzyne - it was a day of chaos and uncertainty, as passengers waited for information.
Well, obviously it has evoked a great deal of concern among Czechs - it was a very harsh reminder of the global threat of terrorism which most people appeared to have pushed to the back of their minds as they go about their business. You could hear people discussing it out in the streets and of course the media returned to it over and over that day, bringing fresh reports from London and the United States. The interior minister and the head of the intelligence service both issued statements saying that there was no direct threat to the Czech Republic but of course in today's world the global threat of terrorism is ever-present. It is interesting to note in this connection that - most Czechs appear to be against the idea of having a US missile base on Czech territory for this particular reason - that it will make the country a big target on the map of terrorists and extremists.
Well, security had already been tightened around key sites in connection with the escalation of the Middle East conflict but additional measures have now been taken and obviously airport terminals are the most affected. Right now there's an armoured personnel carrier parked outside Ruzyne Airport, airport security has been reinforced. There more security men and sniffer dogs in evidence and in particular passengers on British and US bound flights undergo very thorough screening as the airport spokeswoman Veronika Sedlackova explains:
"Passengers bound for Great Britain or the United States will not be allowed to take any liquids or gels on board - not even sealed products in authentic packaging. And those flying with British Airways via London will not be allowed any carry on luggage."
Of course certain passengers may be selected for thorough screening whatever flight they happen to be boarding - so it's important to get to the airport well in advance.
For how long are these special measures expected to remain in force?
Well, obviously that's very hard to predict - it all depends on how the international situation develops. And from what we have seen so far they may not only remain in place permanently but possibly get even tougher. It's an inconvenience but in this case the vast majority of passengers are accepting it without protest because faced with the alternative - it is obviously a very small inconvenience indeed.
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