Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Hero Returns Home

Remains of diplomat killed in Pakistan return to Prague

The Czech military plane with the remains of Ivo Zdarek, the Czech ambassador to Pakistan who died in the terrorist bomb attack on the Marriott hotel in Islamabad on Saturday, landed at Prague's Ruzyne airport Monday evening, awaited by Zdarek relatives and also President Vaclav Klaus and PM Mirek Topolanek.

Zdarek is one of more than 50 victims of the attack.

His coffin was taken aboard the military Airbus, which originally flew to Afghanistan with a consignment for Czech troops operating in the country, in the early afternoon CEST Monday, at the Pakistani air base Chaklala.

"We are awfully sorry, we highly esteemed Mr Ambassador," Klaus said briefly after the end of the ceremony at the airport.

Klaus said it could be seen that ambassadors were really in "the first line" of the defence of Czech interests in the world.

"It is appearing that the first line may be very dangerous," Klaus said.

The coffin, covered by the Czech flag, was taken out of the army aircraft while a mourning march was played. Czech national anthem followed and then the coffin with Zdarek's body was placed in a hearse.

Condolences were also voiced by Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek. He said in the afternoon Zdarek's death had been a tragic event, a challenge for the Czech Republic to seek peaceful solution to conflicts and to be on the side of struggle against terrorism.

Before, the Pakistani government offered to the Czech Republic that it would provide its plane if the Czechs had no means at hand to transport Zdarek's remains home.

Zdarek, who took up the post of the ambassador to Islamabad recently, survived the explosion in front of the Marriott hotel, but probably died in the following fire when he was helping other endangered people.
It is known that he was alive for at least 10 minutes following the blast. Ambassador Zdarek could have fled for his life but didn't, choosing instead to remain at the scene to help other victims
The hotel was his temporary residence until the safety measures at the local seat of the Czech diplomatic mission were completed.

Zdarek is the second Czech to have fallen prey as a civilian to a terrorist attack abroad.

The first was Petr Koran, 24, who died in a bomb attack in the Egyptian seaside resort Sharm El Sheikh in July 2005.
Via The Prague Monitor

Photos: Tomáš Adamec

Also at A Tangled Web

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