Officials in the emerging local government in Basra, Iraq, have sent a letter to Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla, asking the Czech Republic for humanitarian aid. Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik confirmed the request for help on Friday, meant to aid some of the 4 million people in and around Basra in southern Iraq. The Czech government is currently counting on sending the Czech Republic's 7th field hospital to the region, although parliament has yet to approve the mission. The military has already ordered transportation for hospital personnel, including doctors and engineers and protective combat troops, to take place April 18th. In a telephone interview on Friday the Czech ambassador in Kuwait, Jana Hybaskova, indicated it was clear the field hospital unit would be set-up in Basra, while a local Iraqi stressed on Friday that what the region needed most now was drinking water and medicine.
The fall of Baghdad and related events in Iraq prompted the Czech Republic's defence minister Jaroslav Tvrdik on Friday to ask the government to begin relaxing domestic security measures throughout the country. However, that request was denied by the Central Emergency Committee later in the day, said Interior Ministry spokeswoman Marie Masarikova. The army has been on its second-highest alert level, "Bravo", since the war in Iraq began in March. About 600 soldiers have been patrolling the streets of Prague, while extra security measures were implemented at the US embassy, military installations, airports, as well as the country's two nuclear power plants.
Czech police, as well as some five hundred volunteers, are searching for a two-and-a-half year old boy who went missing on Thursday near his village of Borovnice near Trutnov in northern Bohemia. The child was last seen leaving his home with his dog at about three in the afternoon. So far, police have found no indications to the boy's possible whereabouts. Throughout the night on Thursday police used a helicopter with thermo-vision to try and locate the child, while on Friday some 500 volunteers combed the local forestland and hillsides. Police also used specially-trained search dogs in the operation. But, the conditions for the search have been far from optimal: Friday saw rain and snowfall complicate movement and visibility. Heavy fog during the day also prevented the police helicopter from being used.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has issued a warning recommending Czech tourists not to chose south-eastern Sahara in Algeria as a destination site, where 29 European visitors have disappeared since the beginning of the year. Investigators believe that the tourists may have been taken hostage by Muslim radicals. The ministry has warned that if Czechs do visit the region they should not travel that part of the Sahara without a guide. Around 200 to 300 hundred Czechs visit Algeria yearly.
Two armed assailants posing as police officers flagged down and held up a postal vehicle Thursday night, leaving the driver tied to the steering wheel and making off with an undisclosed amount of funds. The driver was otherwise unhurt. Police are still unsure how much money was stolen. The spokesman for Czech Post Ladislav Vancura refused to give a figure on Friday but said that the thieves would be unable to use much of the stolen cash, the majority of which he said was contained in special boxes. Mr Vancura indicated that the cash would be damaged within the boxes, if a special electronic device was not applied after a pre-determined amount of time.
Saturday will be partly cloudy with daytime temperatures of about 14 degrees Celsius.
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