No plans to heighten security after Madrid blasts, says Interior Minister Gross

Станислав Грос

The issue of security is on everybody's minds after the terrible blasts in Madrid on Thursday. Poland, for instance, has stepped up security at its borders and put police on heightened alert. Is the Czech Republic going to do likewise?

On Friday morning the interior minister, Stanislav Gross, spoke at some length on the issue at a news conference in Prague. He said that there were no plans to increase security, adding that it might look effective if he put police on trains but in reality it would achieve little.

Any security analyst would tell you things were more tense in Europe after the Madrid blasts, he said, though he had no information whatsoever that the Czech Republic was faced with any concrete danger.

Mr Gross also discussed the issue of whether security would be heightened at the next big international event in the Czech Republic, the World Ice Hockey Championships, which begin in Prague and Ostrava in little over a month's time. His reply was that a lot would depend on who turned out to be responsible for the Madrid bombings: if it was ETA it remains a great tragedy for Spain but the rest of Europe would not need fear any such attack; if, however, it turns out to have been al-Qaeda or an associated group, it would have a significant influence on the whole continent.

Interior Minister Gross emphasised the need for good intelligence, saying that a special anti-terror unit set up in the wake of the September 11 attacks would also be involved in preparations for the World Hockey Championships.