The remains of the three Czech soldiers killed in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan have been flown back to the Czech Republic. As the military plane carrying their remains arrived back home bells pealed nationwide in their memory.
President Miloš Zeman, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, Defence Minister Lubomír Metnar and other top officials were at the airport to mark the return of the fallen men: Sergeant Martin Marcin, Corporal Kamil Beneš and Corporal Patrik Štěpánek. All three have been posthumously promoted to the rank of officer and will be buried with military honours.
After a short speech by the army’s chief chaplain and the sound of the national anthem, the soldiers’ remains were placed aboard funeral cars which would take them to Prague’s military hospital. The route along Evropská třída and Vítězné náměstí was lined with people wanting to pay their last respects.
The date of the funerals has not yet been set.
The three Czech servicemen were killed by a suicide bomber while patrolling an area near Bagram Air Base, the largest U.S. base in Afghanistan. A US and two Afghan soldier injured in the blast remain in critical condition.
To date, 13 Czech soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan. The worst attack, in 2014, claimed five lives.
At present some 250 Czech soldiers are serving in the country within NATO’s “Resolute Support” mission, a non-combat mission training and advising the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces.