Firefighters search an area after the explosion in Prague.
REUTERS/David W Cerny
The Palestinian ambassador to Prague has been killed in a
blast at his residence that Czech police said appeared to be an
accident caused by explosives detonated when the diplomat
opened a safe.
"There is nothing suggesting that a terrorist act was
committed," spokeswoman Andrea Zoulova told reporters after
ambassador Jamal al-Jamal died in hospital following the
incident at his home on the morning of New Year's Day.
An explosive device - which may have been part of a security
mechanism - went off after the safe was opened, she said.
Jamal, 56, had taken up his post only in October.
The Palestinian foreign ministry, in a statement reported by
the official WAFA news agency, said the blast happened
minutes after Jamal opened a safe that had come from the
embassy's old offices. The mission is in the course of moving
in to new premises next to the residence in a suburb of the
Czech police spokeswoman Zoulova said: "The possibilities
include inexpert handling of an explosive device or its
spontaneous detonation ... The device was in a safe and was
triggered after the door of the safe was opened. The police
are not ruling out that the device was a part of the safe."
Some safes can be fitted with small charges to destroy secret
documents in the event of the lock being tampered with.
However, the Czech police left open the possibility that
another kind of explosive device was involved.
A spokesman for the embassy, Nabil el-Fahel, said he had no
details on what it was that blew up. "We need to wait for the
results of the police investigation," he said.
Jamal suffered lethal injuries to his head, chest and
abdomen, surgeon Daniel Langer told Czech television.
No one else was injured in the explosion, police said,
although a spokeswoman for Prague's emergency medical
services said a 52-year-old woman was treated for smoke
inhalation and shock. Jamal's family was at home at the time
of the blast.
No signs of damage to the two-storey house was visible
outside but police cordoned off part of the street.
The Palestinian foreign ministry said it would send a team to
Prague to help with the investigation.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki, quoted by WAFA,
said Jamal was "martyred in the line of duty".
Born in Beirut to a refugee family, Jamal joined Yasser
Arafat's Fatah faction of the Palestine Liberation Movement
in 1975 and served in PLO missions to Bulgaria and
Czechoslovakia in the 1980s. Part of the diplomatic corps of
the Palestinian Authority that governs the West Bank under
interim peace accords with Israel, he had been its consul in
Alexandria since 2005.