Prague, Aug 5 (CTK) – Czech soldiers took part in the struggle against terrorists and in helping the EU command when fending off a terrorist attack, while some of them evacuated hotel guests in a June terrorist attack in Mali, the military has said on its webpage.

The Czech troops were engaged in the fighting about half an hour after the attack was announced.

Both the saved people and Belgian Brigadier General Peter Devogelaere, who has commanded the EU mission in Mali since December 2016, thanked them for their successful efforts.

The attack on the hotel complex situated some 30 kilometres away from Bamako occurred in mid-June.

According to earlier information, it claimed five lives, while the Malian units killed another four militants and 36 hotel clients or employees were saved.

The attack was claimed by Jihadists with links to al-Qaeda.

Czech soldiers who protect the EU training mission command were also sent to the fight.

After being called in for help, the rapid response group, its two teams, were activated immediately, briefly after 16:00, Devogelaere said.

At the moment, there were tens of people, including soldiers and EU mission staff.

The terrorists were shooting around them in order to hit as many people as possible, Devogelaere said.

Along with other Malian armed forces members, including a local special police unit, the Czech troops joined the fight some 30 minutes after the attack was announced.

The professionalism with which Czech troops joined the fight against terrorists with the aim of saving all the involved persons is breathtaking, Devogelaere said.

Devogelaere said Czech soldiers had shown in the long run that they were among the best serving in the mission, which was also confirmed by a number of his predecessors.

He said over 30 people had been saved. Without the swift intervention, the outcome would have been much, much more tragic.

The webpage said the Czech soldiers had taken part in fending off the attack and the subsequent “cleansing” of the complex.

“I led a Malian unit, the advance was very fast. A ballistic shield was used for protection,” a Czech member of the 71st mechanised battalion from Hranice na Morave, north Moravia, the core of the Czech unit in Mali, said.

“This was our only protection, except for our own ballistic means for defence,” he added.

One of the local soldiers was hit and died, the soldier said.

Other Czech soldiers were evacuating the hotel guests and staff.

“The wounded were taken to ambulance cars. They thanked us. Most of them were crying. In the following days, many of them came to thank us to the base. It was deeply moving,” he added.

A number of Islamist terrorist groups have been operating in Mali, where over 10,000 U.N. officers from various countries have been deployed since 2013.

Several dozens of Czech soldiers operate within the Malian mission under the aegis of the EU.

pv/dr