Four Czech soldiers killed in Afghan suicide bomb attack
Military authorities have confirmed the death of four Czech soldiers killed in a suicide bombing near the Bagram Airbase in eastern Afghanistan. The attack took place in the early morning hours on Tuesday, as NATO soldiers were undertaking a routine patrol outside the air base, and just as the country is in the midst of electing a new president. Reports also suggest that at least ten local civilians were killed in the blast, for which the Taliban has reportedly claimed responsibility.
“I must say that I consider this whole matter to be a deeply shocking and tragic event. This is obviously very sad news both for the government and the entire country. As Prime Minister, I would like to express my deepest condolences to the friends and families of those soldiers who have been killed in Afghanistan...I would also like to note the heroism of these soldiers, who fell while carrying out their duties; while defending principles that the Czech Republic has long-term espoused – namely freedom and democracy. I truly bow my head to these modern Czech heroes.”
The Czech Republic presently contributes 150 Czech soldiers to the total 40,000 ISAF troops situated at Bagram Airbase in Parwan Province. In total, around 270 Czech troops are located in Afghanistan, spread across four locations. Their mandate to be in the country will expire at the end of 2014. However, back in June, ISAF head US General Joseph Dunford and Czech army Chief of Staff Petr Pavel engaged in discussions to have up to 300 Czech soldiers continue in the country as part of the subsequent NATO-led operation Resolute Support, which will take over the baton after current combat operations end some time around the end of 2014.
The latest casualties bring to nine the total number of Czechs killed in Afghanistan, the first occurring in 2007.