The joint Czech-Slovak anti-chemical unit based in Kuwait has increased its monitoring of the situation involving radiation and chemical and biological weapons in the country, the unit's commander Dusan Lupuljev said on Tuesday. The monitoring was stepped up at midnight on Monday following a request from the Kuwaiti authorities. In the light of reports that Iraq may use such weapons when Baghdad is attacked, Czech and United States officials have held talks on US soldiers protecting the unit if it enters Iraq. The Czech parliament has approved its troops taking part in the US-led war against Saddam Hussein's regime if Iraq uses such weapons, though they are expected to play a primarily humanitarian role.
Meanwhile the Czech-Slovak anti-chemical unit has again come under repeated rocket fire, but - as with previous attacks - none of the rockets have reached their target and there have been no injuries.
In other war-related news, a total of seven US B 52 bomber planes have flown across the Czech Republic in the last 24 hours. Previously the US had only flown transport planes through Czech air space.
The Czech defence minister, Jaroslav Tvrdik, has expressed his dissatisfaction over the failure of a Czech company to fulfil a contract to supply 15,000 gas masks to Kuwait. The company, Gumarny Zubri, sent a consignment of gas masks different from those they had been contracted to send, and the Kuwaitis subsequently dissolved the deal. Minister Tvrdik said even as the company was signing the contract they knew they would be unable to honour it.
Czech politicians have reacted cooly to the Sudeten German Landsmanschaft's opening of an office in Prague on Tuesday, with some saying it could damage Czech-German relations and the outcome of the June referendum on joining the European Union. For his part the Sudeten German leader, Bernd Posselt, said the office would improve dialogue and increase contact between his organisation and Czech politicians and civic groups. Mr Posselt also called for the abrogation of the Benes decrees, under which Czechoslovakia's German minority were expelled en masse and had their property seized after World War II.
Humanitarian aid amounting to some five million Czech crowns is being sent to Turkey in connection with the war against Iraq. A spokesman for the fire brigade union, which has organised the aid, said equipment to build refugee camps, decontamination materials and devices to detect poisonous chemicals were to be sent to Turkey this Saturday. The spokesman said the possible housing of around 500 Iraqi refugees in the Czech Republic was also being prepared.
Three more people in the Czech Republic have been hospitalised with suspected cases of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, a deadly form of pneumonia which originated in Asia. On Monday night a young man suspected of having the mystery illness was taken to hospital in Brno, and two women were admitted to hospital in Prague on Tuesday bringing the total number of suspected cases to eight. As yet the presence of the disease has not been proven, and one patient was allowed home on Tuesday.
The Czech section of the international service of Czech Radio, Radio Prague, has launched special broadcasts targeted at the Czech anti-chemical troops based in Kuwait. Relatives of the soldiers as well as the Czech public will have a chance to send voice messages to members of the unit. Radio Prague broadcasts in six languages on short wave, via satellite and on the internet throughout the world, and also on medium wave in the Czech Republic.
Wednesday should be another pleasant day in the Czech Republic with sunny spells around the country and a maximum daytime temperature of 16 degrees Celsius.
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