A Czech national suspected of wanting to join Islamic State militants has been charged with planning a terrorist attack, Czech Radio reported on Thursday. If convicted, he would face a 12 to 20 year sentence or even life imprisonment. The man was arrested at Istanbul Airport during a transfer to Gaziantep, a town located on the Turkish-Syrian border where IS recruits are known to gather before being sent into action in Syria. The man reportedly admitted to wanting to join IS and even spoke about being ready to conduct executions on selected individuals. Psychologists confirmed that the man is sane and fully responsible for his actions, enabling the state attorney to press charges.
Tightened security measures in the Czech Republic introduced in the wake of Monday's terrorist attack in Berlin will remain in place at least until January 2, according to Interior Minister Milan Chovanec. Police patrols have been reinforced around the country by around 500 officers. Barriers have appeared at selected sites such as Prague's Christmas markets and Wenceslas Square to block access to vehicles. Barriers have also been put up in other towns, including the Moravian metropilis Brno and the country's third and fourth largest cities, Ostrava and Plzen. Police will also step up their presence at frequented sites such as airports, shopping malls and railway stations. Minister Chovanec estimated the cost of the measures at around 30 million crowns.
The Prague metro station IP Pavlova on line C was closed for over an hour on Thursday over a security scare. Police cleared out the station after a passenger reported an abandoned backpack. Trains were allowed to pass through. Explosives experts searched the backpack and found nothing suspicious. The station reopened shortly before midday.
Police released a photo fit of the man who attacked Czech tennis player Petra Kvitová at her home on Tuesday. They have asked the public to help locate the assailant who is still at large and is believed to be around 35 years of age. The two-time Wimbledon champion underwent almost four hours of surgery to repair cut tendons and nerves on her left hand. The injuries were sustained as Kvitová defended herself against the assailant. The surgeon who operated on her left hand said she would not be able to play tennis for about six months.
Several hundred Czech Post employees have so far joined a planned chain strike in support of a demand for higher wages. According to a Czech Post spokeswoman the strike has not affected services at counters, although it may delay the delivery of parcels ahead of Christmas. The chain strike is to last for an hour at each facility before moving on to the next up until midnight on Thursday. Trade unions have been pushing for a wage increase for postal workers by 2,500 crowns a month which Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and Interior Minister Milan Chovanec, under whose administration the state owned company is, described as unrealistic in view of its economic results. Employees have been promised a raise of just over 500 crowns a month.
The US Embassy in Prague chose an original way of wishing Czechs Merry Christmas this year. It posted a video on its web page showing embassy employees singing one of the best loved Czech Christmas carols Půjdem spolu do Betléma –We will go to Bethlehem Together –in the original. The video starts with Cultural Attaché Erin Kotheimer and Ray Castillo, Counselor for Public Affairs breaking into song and other employees joining in as they walk around the US residence. At the end Ambassador Andrew Schapiro joins them to wish Czechs a Merry Christmas on behalf of all the staff.
Friday should be overcast around most of the country with morning fog in places, some drizzle and day temperatures between 1 and 5 degrees Celsius. Night time lows should range between 0 and 4 degrees.
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