Militants using Czech Republic as transit country: Czech PM

PRAGUE (AFP) - Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka on Thursday (Nov 19) said militants appeared to have been using the European Union member as a gateway to France.

"The Czech Republic is considered a safe bet," Mr Sobotka said, adding that passengers coming from such countries "attract less attention" than those arriving from areas hit by terrorism.

"We have indications from our intelligence services that Prague, the Czech Republic is being used as a transit point," he said in the central town of Odolena Voda, quoted by the country's CTK news agency.

"But this isn't limited to the Czech Republic."

French media have reported that Reda Hame, a militant who was arrested in France in August on his return from Syria, told the police he was order to pass through Prague on his way to France, where his mission was to attack a "soft target", such as a concert hall.

The reports say the advice came from Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the Belgian militant suspected of orchestrating last week's deadly massacres in Paris, which killed 129 people - the worst terror attack in French history - who was killed in a police raid near Paris on Wednesday.

Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec however downplayed Mr Sobotka's comments, saying the country "had in recent months ensured the highest of safety standards, paying maximum attention to the movement of foreigners across its territory".