Two Czech women who were kidnapped in Pakistan two years ago have been released, Czech Television reported early on Saturday citing Turkish media sources. The IHH Turkish charity reportedly participated in negotiations to secure their release and the two young women returned home via Turkey late on Friday night. The news of their safe return has since been confirmed by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, who thanked the IHH for helping to secure their release and asked the media to respect their and their families’ privacy in order to enable them to return to a normal life as soon as possible. The Turkish media published a photo of the young women on which they both appear to be unharmed.
The Czech authorities have not disclosed any details with respect to the negotiations leading up to the release of the two Czech women who were kidnapped in Pakistan in 2013 or said where they were kept in detention. Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek said that the ministry did not want to reveal further details at this point. Interior Minister Milan Chovanec indicated that the Czech Republic had not paid a ransom to bring them back. The Czech Republic does not negotiate with terrorists or pay ransom money, he told Czech Television.
President Miloš Zeman’s spokesperson said the president was extremely happy to hear that the two young women had been freed and expressed his gratitude to the IHH NGO for negotiating their release.
The 120 vehicle strong US military convoy, which is expected to cross Czech territory on its way back to Germany from a NATO military exercise in the Baltic states, is due to arrive at the Polish-Czech border at around 10 .30 am on Sunday. The convoy, which is travelling through six NATO member states to demonstrate NATO unity and US commitment to stability in Europe, will spend four days in the Czech Republic before heading for its home base in Bavaria. It is expected to meet both with supporters and opponents who disapprove of what they describe as NATO muscle-flexing on Czech territory. On the eve of its arrival several hundred people gathered on Wenceslas Square to air their views. Protesters, largely communist party sympathizers, mingled with supporters carrying US flags and the two comps engaged in heated verbal disputes. The police was out in force to keep the demonstrations under control. According to a recent poll 82 percent of Czechs have no problem with the convoy passing through and Czech politicians have repeatedly stressed that the US convoy is an allied force, not a foreign army.
Two freight trains collided head-on near the town of Litomerice on Saturday morning. One of the engine drivers was badly injured in the accident. It is not yet clear how the trains came to be on the same track. An inspection team is at the site of the accident and the rail track will be closed at least until the end of the day. The preliminary damage estimate is around 100 million crowns.
Some of the country’s most popular castles and chateaux opened their doors to the public this weekend, marking the start of the tourist season. Among them are Karlšejn, Křivoklát and Konopište, which annually attract over half a million visitors. Prague Castle also opened its doors to visitors this weekend. The country’s other historical attractions are due to open the season on April 1st or the long Easter weekend with price cuts and special events for visitors.
The annual shift to summertime or daylight saving time is due to take place at 2am on Sunday, when clocks will be moved forward by an hour. In the Czech Republic the shift to summertime, introduced for economic reasons, has been implemented, with a number of breaks, for 36 years. Until 1995 summertime in the Czech Republic lasted for six months of the year, after that the country brought it in line with EU norms and it now lasts for seven months- i.e. until the end of October.
The winner of the 2015 Prague Half Marathon is Daniel Kinyua Wanjiru from Kenya who covered the 21 km distance in 59 minutes 51 seconds. The first woman to reach the finishing line was Worknesh Degefao who covered the track in 1:07:14. Over 12,000 participants from around the world took part. The Prague Half Marathon holds IAAF Gold Label Road Race status and is managed by the same organization that holds the Prague Marathon in May.
Why Chinese masks destined for Italy were seized (not ‘stolen’) by Czech authorities
Economist Tomáš Sedláček: A positive look at the coronavirus crisis
Fall in coronavirus reproduction number shows efficacy of strict measures
How is coronavirus affecting Prague’s real estate market?
March 25, 1945 – the day the Americans bombed Prague deliberately