Dec. 23 named as day of national mourning after deadly Prague shooting

Czechia's president and senior ministers paid tribute to the deceased victims, urging national unity and strength while praising Prague's rescue services.

Expats.cz Staff ČTK

Written by Expats.cz StaffČTK Published on 21.12.2023 23:50:00 (updated on 22.12.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

Senior members of the Czech cabinet held an emergency meeting with President Petr Pavel tonight to discuss this afternoon’s tragic mass shooting at Charles University’s Faculty of Arts. The government has said Dec. 23 will be a day of national mourning nationwide. 

A one-minute silence on Saturday

Prime Minister Petr Fiala called on all people across Czechia to observe a minute of silence in memory of the victims of this afternoon's tragedy on Saturday at midday. At the same time, bells will ring around the country. Flags from government buildings will also be flown at half-mast for the whole of Saturday.

"We are all shocked by this terrible act," said the prime minister. A total of 14 people, including the attacker, are dead following this afternoon’s attacks. Twenty-five are injured, with 10 in a serious condition. 

Fiala also ordered the Minister of Justice to provide the maximum possible cooperation to victims and survivors in resolving compensation after today's shooting in Prague. 

"There is no justification for this terrible act. I feel deep sadness and disgust," he said later. "Let us now think of those who have lost their loved ones and for whom this Christmas will be unimaginably sad. Let us share with them their grief and pain," Fiala added earlier today.

Pavel urges restraint, cohesion

President Petr Pavel gave a heartfelt message to the country. He expressed "great sadness and impotent rage over the completely unnecessary loss of so many young lives." 

Praising the prompt responses of Prague’s rescue services, he also said: "I would like to acknowledge the heroism of all those who were first to enter the buildings to search for the killer.”

Pavel continued: “We need piety, restraint, and cohesion. We need to find inner peace and reasonable solutions to prevent such situations in the future and to improve the system we have. We will work to identify possible problems.”

The president appealed to politicians, media, and the public to not use today’s attacks for political gain.

Interior minister: Resist disinformation

Interior Minister Vít Rakušan said that the country “has never experienced anything like this." He also warned the public of any disinformation: "We provide all the information that can be provided that is relevant and verified. Please refer to these sources as the ones you will share,” he stated.

"Tomorrow, I will focus on picking out the most serious misinformation that appears in the public space, because we need to prevent its spread," he added.

Rakušan also thanked police officers for their speedy response. "They bravely threw themselves into a shootout with the attacker," he said. 

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The interior minister said earlier today that the identities of the victims would begin to be disclosed tomorrow, including their nationalities. He said that all relevant consulates and embassies would be contacted immediately if foreigners were among those deceased.

This is the worst mass shooting in Czechia’s history and among the deadliest seen in Europe in the last 15 years. The attacker, who was 24, is reported to have killed his father in the nearby Central Bohemian town of Kladno before making his way to Prague. He was a student at Charles University.

Police have now linked him to the double homicide in Klánovice forest last Friday, which saw a father and his two-month-old daughter murdered by an unknown assailant.

The last time the Czech Republic held a period of state mourning was to commemorate the sudden death of then-Senate President Jaroslav Kubera on Feb. 3, 2020.

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