Thursday, 24 April 2014

Czech troops start guarding EU mission headquarters in Bamako

2 April 2013

Bamako/Prague, April 1 (CTK) - Thirty-four Czech troops started guarding the headquarters of the EU training mission in Mali's capital Bamako Monday, Czech Defence Ministry spokesman Jan Pejsek confirmed to CTK.

France, which commands the EUTM mission, requested that the Czech soldiers fulfil force protection tasks at the Bamako base.

Within their 15-month mission, the Czech soldiers will guard the EU's military base in Bamako for six months.

Afterwards the Czechs will probably train the Malian army.

Pejsek said Czech military instructors would be sent to Mali in this case.

The Czech military will give redundant arms and ammunition to the Malian army, too.

The EUTM training mission's aim is to prepare and equip the Malian army that is fighting Islamists in the northern part of the country. It was launched based on a U.N. Security Council resolution and a request from the Malian army.

The costs of the Czech participation are estimated at 135 million crowns this year and a similar amount next year.

Commander of the Czech unit, Marek Stepanek, said previously he did not expect Czech soldiers to face attacks from Muslim radicals because the battles between insurgents and the Malian and French troops took place far from the capital city.

France sent about 4000 soldiers to Mali to help the Malian army stop the Muslim rebels.

Most of the Czech soldiers now serving in Bamako are paratroopers from Chrudim, east Bohemia. They were deployed within missions in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo before.

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