Bamako, Jan 28 (CTK special correspondent) – The Czech military may deploy a health unit in Mali where it could operate in the war zone in its troubled northern part, Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky told journalists during his visit to the Czech troops in the country yesterday.
Stropnicky visited the Czech troops protecting the command of the European Union Training Mission in Mali (EUTM) and also conducting some training in the country yesterday.
Since the beginning of the year, the first members of the Czech special forces have also been in the northern part of the country.
During his one-day visit, Stropnicky saw the command of the training mission in Bamako and met its commander Werner Albl from Germany.
Stropnicky also spoke with Albl’s French aide.
After meeting him, he said the Czech military might send a health unit to Mali.
“The one that works right in the war zone, providing first aid in the field and enabling the transfer by a helicopter to a bigger facility,” Stropnicky said.
Tens of more soldiers may be sent to Mali, Stropnicky said, adding that he was yet to consult the military command, but the ministry already had the money for this.
Stropnicky’s schedule also included a visit to the Koulikoro training center with four Czech instructors who are to improve the tactical capabilities of Malian soldiers.
In all, the Czech military sent 39 soldiers to the EUTM. Most of them protect the command in Bamako.
“Our contingent here in Bamako is responsible for the protection of the local command and for the training of the Malian soldiers,” Commander Ondrej Marek told journalists.
“It is a routine service that has not been changed and that is rather boring,” Marek said.
The Czech military also takes part in The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) in northeastern Mali where there are fightings with Islamic militants.
In all, the Czech Republic will send 25 special forces troops under the command of General Moravec to it. A minor part has been in Mali since early January, the rest will come in February.
The soldiers are to stay in Mali until October.
The military said earlier they were to cooperate with the Dutch.
Stropnicky said they would be primarily in charge of the protection of the local population and of the stabilisation of the situation.
Stropnicky brought food packages to Mali, for which the troops themselves had asked.
Marek said these were primarily the things that could not be bought in Bamako.
A special military plane brought them cheeses, smoked meat and garlic.