Czech soldiers wounded in Afghanistan arrive in Prague

Photo: CTK

Two Czech soldiers, who were injured in Monday’s attack on the Czech Provincial and Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan, arrived in Prague on Wednesday. The rocket attack by Afghan insurgents has been the third since the second army contingentwas deployed in the Afghan province of Logar, and the security situation in Afghanistan is further deteriorating.

Photo: CTK
The Czech Provincial and Reconstruction Team base in the Afghan province of Logar came under attack in the early hours on Monday. Three Czech soldiers were wounded in the attack, two of them seriously. The press officer of the Czech Army’s second contingent in Logar, Major Jindřich Plescher, describes Monday’s attack.

“At 2 AM on Monday, September 22, there was a rocket attack on the Shank base where the Czech Provincial Reconstruction Team Logar is stationed. Three rockets of 107 mm calibre were fired; one of them landed inside the base. Three soldiers were wounded by shrapnel because the rocket exploded near one of the shelters. They were treated immediately; two soldiers were transported by helicopter to the field hospital in Bagram where they were given all accessible treatment. The rockets were fired from a nearby mountain range from provisional firing positions some three kilometres away from the base.”

The Czech Provincial and Reconstruction Team in the Afghan province of Logar,  photo:
The Provincial Reconstruction Team arrived in Afghanistan in March 2008. In August, the Czech Army’s second contingent landed in the Logar province to carry on with development projects in the area, including police training, agricultural programmes and the build-up of civilian administration. But Major Jindřich Plescher says the security situation in this part of Afghanistan is not getting better.

“The security situation here in the Logar Province is permanently aggravated. We have been here for one month and this has been the third rocket attack. Unfortunately, on Monday one of the rockets fell right inside the base. Certain security measures apply to the activities of both our soldiers and our civilian experts; we are trying to take steps to bring the security risks down to the lowest level possible.”

The activities of the Czech PRT in Logar were not jeopardized by the latest attack but not all the locals, says Major Plescher, welcome the presence of the Czech military.

“The majority of the local population treat us well and with friendliness. There are some areas where they are not happy to see us, where they throw stones at us, for instance, and they don’t like us coming there and carrying out some of the projects.”

Ivo Střecha,  photo: CTK
Colonel Ivo Střecha, the commander of the Army’s first contingent that served in Afghanistan between March and August 2008, told Czech TV after the latest attack that the war against the insurgency can be won if certain conditions are met.

“It can be done under certain conditions that have to be fulfilled. My opinion is similar to the view of US military commanders in that the number of allied troops in Afghanistan must be stepped up, and also the issue of Afghan – Pakistani relations must be resolved.”

The two Czech soldiers wounded in the attack arrived in Prague on Wednesday, while the third remains in Afghanistan and has returned to duty.