The remains of the three Czech soldiers killed in a suicide bombing in
Afghanistan have been flown back to the Czech Republic where they have been
hailed as national heroes.
A special ceremony at Prague’s Václav Havel Airport was attended by President Miloš Zeman who is head of the Czech Armed Forces, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, Defence Ministry officials, family and friends. Hundreds of people turned out to pay their last respects.
The three servicemen have been posthumously promoted to the rank of officer and will be buried with military honours. President Milos Zeman will award them with medals of bravery on October 28th, the country’s national holiday.
To date 9,000 Czech soldiers have served in Afghanistan. Thirteen of them were killed. The deadliest attack, in 2014, claimed five lives.
The Czech soldiers killed on Sunday had been patrolling an area about near Bagram Air Base, the largest U.S. base in Afghanistan.
The recent incident in Afghanistan, which claimed the lives of three Czech soldiers stationed in the country as part of NATO’s mission, has opened up several questions, including how the Czech Republic cares for its modern-day war veterans and whether it does enough to help them re-integrate into society once they have left the army.
People are sending money in aid of the families of the three soldiers
killed in Afghanistan on Sunday. According to the head of the Military
Solidarity Fund, Lenka Šmerdová, news of the soldiers deaths sparked a
strong wave of solidarity with thousands of people sending money to a
special account. Over 1.2 million crowns has been collected so far.
People’s hearts have gone out in particular to the young widow of Corporal Kamil Beneš who gave birth to their first child – a son – just a week after her husband left on his mission. He never got to see his three months old baby.
The Defence Ministry is also providing for the families.
The three Czech soldiers killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan on
Sunday will be buried with military honours, Defence Ministry spokesman Jan
Pejšek said on Monday.
Sirens will sound nationwide in their memory at midday on Wednesday, the day on which their remains will be brought home on a special army plane.
President Miloš Zeman, the head of the Czech Armed forces, and leading political representatives will be present at the ceremony at the airport.
Since 2002 more than 9,000 Czech soldiers have served in Afghanistan. Thirteen of them were killed.
Three Czech service members were killed in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday by a suicide bomber while conducting a joint foot patrol with U.S. and local soldiers. Hailed as heroes by Czech military brass and politicians, the soldiers were serving in Nato’s “Resolute Support” mission, a non-combat mission training and advising the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces.
President Miloš Zeman, the head of the Czech Armed Forces, expressed deep
sorrow over the news of the deaths of three Czech soldiers in Afghanistan,
adding that the tragedy must not deter the international forces from the
fight against terrorism.
Condolences and words of acknowledgement are streaming in from Czech politicians across the board.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said on Twitter the three soldiers were national heroes and expressed deep respect for the fact that they had laid down their lives for the country.
Jana Černochová from the Civic Democrats said she was deeply moved and proud off all the Czech soldiers who were risking their lives to defend our freedom far from home.
A suicide bombing killed three Czech soldiers on patrol in eastern
Afghanistan on Sunday, the Czech Defence Ministry reported.
Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack by a lone bomber which happened in the early hours of Sunday in the city of Charikar some 60 kilometres north of Kabul.
Defence Minister Lubomír Metnar said a staff sergeant and two corporals had died in the explosion. He said their deaths had touched him deeply and expressed condolences to their families.
Thirteen Czech soldiers have been killed on duty in Afghanistan serving in NATO's Resolute Support mission.There are presently some 250 Czech troops serving in the country.
Donald Trump has made headlines this week by calling on America’s NATO allies to increase their defence spending. His words have met with a mixed response here in the Czech Republic, with some acceptance that armaments purchases must be stepped up – but questions surrounding the speed and focus of such spending.
NATO regards a Czech commitment to increase defence spending to 2 percent
of GDP by the year 2024 as credible, according to the Czech ambassador to
the alliance, Jiří Šedivý. In an interview with Czech Television after
US President Donald Trump called on Europe to boost its outlay on its
defence, Mr. Šedivý said the Czech Republic was neither among the best or
the worst as regards weapons purchases.
This was borne out by the fact that it was not among those countries to receive a letter from Mr. Trump calling on them to contribute more to collective defence, the Czech official said.
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