Police officer stabbed to death at Prague underground

Police officer stabbed to death at Prague underground, photo: CTK

On Friday evening an officer working for the transport police at Prague's metro, paid with his life, after trying to protect passengers against a man who was throwing fire crackers to the rails and threatening people with knife. This unprecedented incident has sent shock-waves through the Czech Republic. Alena Skodova reports:

Police officer stabbed to death at Prague underground,  photo: CTK
The incident took place at Museum station in the centre of the city in the rush-hour around 6 p.m. Museum station was full of people, when a man of around 50 started throwing fire crackers on the rails. An elderly man waiting on the platform tried to intervene, but the offender stabbed him twice with a knife attached to a metre-long pole and pierced both his lungs. This caused chaos, and a police officer came to calm down the situation. In the course of just a single second, he was stabbed in the heart and died on the spot. The injured passenger was rushed to hospital, and is now out of danger.

The man refused to disclose both his identity and his motive,  photo: CTK
Doubts have arisen as to whether the 39-year old policeman should have used his gun to stop the man, but his colleagues say he behaved correctly. Using a gun could have led to further casualties as there were crowds of passengers at Museum station waiting for their train. Monday's edition of the daily Pravo carries shots from an amateur film, taken from a train passing by on the opposite platform.

The man has confessed to the attack, but refused to disclose both his identity and his motive. According to the deputy director of Prague Police, Miroslav Platil, the man, who spoke Russian, had been living in the Czech Republic for six or seven years, and unconfirmed sources say that he had applied for asylum back in the early 1990s. If this is the case, questions will now be asked as to what he was doing in the Czech Republic, and how effectively Czech Foreign Police is working. Although this was an isolated incident, it was shocking in that it occurred at such a busy spot in the city centre in broad daylight. Prague transport police, who oversee the metro network, will now be taking a close look to see if such tragedies could in future be avoided.