Sirens to sound for fallen soldiers

Prague's warning sirens will go off an extra time this month

Prague will honor the three Czech soldiers who died recently in Afghanistan by sounding the city's network of warning sirens on Wednesday, Aug. 8, at noon for 140 seconds. Similar networks of sirens should be heard across most of the country.

In the afternoon, the public can pay respect as the coffins are moved from Václav Havel Airport Prague on the ground with a military escort.

Prague City Hall announced the siren sounding on its website, following an announcement made by the Czech government concerning a nationwide effort for a memorial event.

The sirens usually are sounded as a test on the first Wednesday of each month and remain silent the rest of the time. While the network is in place to warn people of dangers such as natural disasters, it is also used on occasion for ceremonial purposes.

People on Wednesday will not have not take any action but should use the time to remember the sacrifices the three soldiers made.

“I am very sorry for the deaths of our three soldiers in Afghanistan. The heroes fought terrorists very far from home and were murdered by a suicide attacker. I appreciate what they did for our country. I express my deepest sympathy to their families and their survivors,” Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) said in the government statement authorizing the siren soundings.

On Sunday, Aug. 5, a patrol near Bagrám base in the Parwan province of Afghanistan faced an attack by a lone suicide bomber. The three Czech soldiers who died are Staff Sergeant Martin Marcin (born 1982), Corporal Kamil Beneš (1990) and Corporal Patrik Štěpánek (1993). A US solider and two Afghan soldiers were wounded in the same attack.

The Czech soldiers will be promoted posthumously to the rank of captain, and all three will be buried with military honors.

The remains of the soldiers will be transported to the Czech Republic on Wednesday afternoon, with a Gripen escort. They should arrive at 4:15 pm. President Miloš Zeman and Prime Minister Babiš are expected to attend a ceremony at Václav Havel Airport Prague.

A military column will then go from Václav Havel Airport along Evropská třída to Vítězné náměstí, and the public can show respect along the route and at the square.

In Afghanistan, 13 Czech soldiers have fallen; the first was in 2007. The worst attack claimed five victims in 2014. Some 28 Czech soldiers have died in foreign missions since the 1990s.

People who want to help the families of the fallen soldiers can donate money to an account. The bank details are: 44665522/0800, variable symbol 918 or by SMS: DMS VFS 30, DMS VFS 60 or DMS VFS 90 to number 87777

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