Prague, Czech Republic – Three Czech NATO soldiers, part of the Alliance’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, were killed on Sunday morning by a suicide bomber. One American service member and two Afghan soldiers were also injured in the attack. The assault took place around 6 am local time, during a routine joint patrol near the Bagram military base (where most of the Czech service members are stationed), located in the Parwan province, north of Kabul. The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack.
The nationality of the soldiers was disclosed by Lt. Gen. Ales Opata, the Czech Army’s chief of general staff, before being confirmed by U.S. and Czech authorities. Jan Hamáček, the Czech Republic’s Interior Minister and acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, paid homage to the victims on Twitter: the “Czech Republic has suffered a terrible loss. Our three soldiers were killed in a suicide attack while on a foot patrol with Afghan forces in Parwan province. My thoughts remain with the families and friends of our fallen [soldiers]”. President Miloš Zeman also expressed his deepest regrets over the tragic attack, while Prime Minister Andrej Babiš called the three soldiers national heroes. Meanwhile, the Communist Party called for the government to terminate the country’s involvement in military operations abroad.
U.S. Army General and Resolute Support commander John Nicholson also paid tribute to the fallen service members in a statement: “My thoughts and prayers, along with those of all of the 41 Resolute Support nations, are with the families and friends of our fallen and wounded service members, and our injured Afghan brothers and their families”.
Although NATO’s combat mission in Afghanistan officially ended in 2014, the Alliance launched Resolute Support the following year to train and assist local security forces. Last June, the Czech Republic approved a plan to deploy 390 soldiers as part of NATO’s presence in the country through 2020, compared to 230 until now. As a whole, Resolute Support mission includes 16.000 personnel.
Over 3.500 coalition troops have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001, including more than 2.000 U.S. soldiers and 13 Czech service members.