Czech Republic on security alert following Brussels attacks

Zaventem Airport in Brussels after the attacks, photo: CTK

Czech officials across the political spectrum have condemned the terrorist attacks against innocent civilians in Brussels on Tuesday which left more than 30 people dead and at least 200 wounded. In their reactions to the attacks, the politicians stressed the need for coordinated action on the part of the EU and said it was crucial not to be intimidated by terror.

Zaventem Airport in Brussels after the attacks,  photo: CTK
In the wake of the suicide attacks in Brussels on Tuesday, the Czech Interior Ministry for the first time declared a first level security alert, the lowest on a four-point scale introduced recently by the government. The ministry also stepped up security at the country’s airports, the Prague Metro system and around key institutions. At the same time, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec said the police had no information suggesting any imminent threat to the country.

At a session of the lower house on Tuesday, Czech deputies observed a minute of silence for the victims of the attacks in Brussels. Condemnation from Czech politicians was quick and unanimous. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka denounced the attacks on behalf of the Czech government:

Bohuslav Sobotka,  photo: CTK
“I want to express my condolences to the families of the victims as well as solidarity and support for the government of Belgium. It is important that we fight terrorism together. It is a joint mission for the EU and all democratic countries and our cooperation is indispensable. It is also necessary that we take all available and adequate safety measures, and the Czech government has taken the necessary steps immediately after receiving information about the attacks.”

At an extraordinary meeting of the cabinet on Tuesday night, the government agreed to deploy up to 550 soldiers to join police patrols at airports, railway stations, selected embassies and places with a high concentration of people. The military patrols will stay deployed at least for the next two months. Special security measures are also in place at the country’s two nuclear power plants, Dukovany and Temelín.

In an interview for Czech Television, Czech President Miloš Zeman said he welcomed the security measures but warned against underestimating the terrorist threat in other countries:

“Only in Germany, there are at least one million immigrants, and out of that number at least eight and a half thousand are jihadists. So terrorists have a sufficient reserve for future attacks.”

Photo: CTK
The Czech Foreign Ministry said it had no indication that Czech citizens may have been among the victims of the attacks, but will only be able to officially confirm this once the process of identification of the victims in Belgium has been concluded.

Many of the around four thousand Czechs living in Brussels have already marked themselves safe via a special Facebook safety check, which was activated shortly after the attack. Meanwhile, the Czech Foreign Ministry has advised Czech citizens not to travel to the Belgian capital until further notice.