Kabul - Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky has visited Czech troops deployed in Afghanistan, including the unit at Bagram air base in the northern province of Parwan where five soldiers killed in a July 8 suicide bomb attack served.
Ilustrační foto - Ministr obrany Martin Stropnický hovoří s novináři 15. dubna v Lucemburku při příchodu na jednání ministrů obrany EU. ČTK Dospiva Jakub
Stropnicky (ANO) arrived in Afghanistan aboard a military plane on Thursday morning. For security reasons, the information about his trip could be released only at the close of his visit today.
At the Bagram base he thanked the soldiers for their participation in the foreign mission.
"Unfortunately, events have to occur now and then for [Czech] people to realise how [brave] guys represent the nation," Stropnicky said, alluding to the recent attack that killed five Czech soldiers, and another attack in which one Czech soldier was wounded.
Stropnicky presented several soldiers with commemorative medals and he read some of the messages people have addressed to the Czech military in connection with the tragic attack.
He also brought refreshment to the Czech soldiers, who, for their turn, presented him with the Czech flag taken from a vehicle destroyed in the suicide bomb attack last week.
Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
Stropnicky was then helicoptered to Kabul where he met Czech soldiers at the ISAF mission headquarters and ISAF deputy commander Carsten Jacobson.
Almost 300 Czech soldiers serve in Afghanistan now. Besides military doctors and the patrolling unit at the Bagram base, Czech military logistics and meteorology experts operate in the country, as well as officers who train local helicopter pilots.
The strongest Czech unit is the one patrolling the Bagram air base. Its members patrol the base´s surroundings, also in order to prevent rebels from launching rockets at the base. They talk to local inhabitants to gain information.
A suicide attacker blew himself up in the proximity of a Czech patrol on July 8, killing four soldiers and fatally injuring one, who later died in Prague.
At night to Sunday, a Czech patrol faced another attack, from hand firearms this time. The rebels also launched anti-tank grenades at the Czech armoured vehicles, wounding a soldier in a gun turret. He was flown to the Czech Republic on Wednesday and stays in the Central Military Hospital in Prague.