x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Palestinian ambassador killed by blast at Prague apartment

The Palestinian ambassador to Prague, Jamal Al Jamal, was killed by a blast in his residence on Wednesday, the police said.

PRAGUE // The Palestinian ambassador to the Czech Republic was killed in an explosion at his residence on Wednesday that authorities believe was probably an accident.

The Palestinian foreign ministry said ambassador Jamal Al Jamal had been trying to open a safe that was recently moved to his new home and a Czech government source said that the explosion was probably caused by a security device on the unit.

It was unclear what that was. Some safes can be fitted with mechanisms designed to destroy secret documents in the event of the lock being tampered with. The Czech source said the government did not believe it was a terrorist attack.

Czech police said the ambassador died of his injuries in hospital after the explosion on the morning of New Year’s Day in the two-storey suburban residence. No one else was injured, police said, although Mr Jamal’s family was at home at the time.

No signs of damage to the house was visible from the street.

“There has been a detonation of a so far unidentified explosive mixture,” police spokeswoman Andrea Zoulova said. “The ambassador was ... taken to hospital with serious injuries.”

She later said he had died.

Daniel Langer, surgeon at the Prague military hospital to which Mr Jamal was taken, told Czech television the ambassador had suffered devastating “head, belly and chest injuries following an explosion.”

A Palestinian official in the West Bank administrative centre Ramallah said: “This explosion happened at his house. He recently moved there.”

The official Palestinian news agency WAFA, citing a foreign ministry statement, said the blast happened when Mr Jamal tried to open a safe that had been moved from the embassy’s old offices.

Police cordoned off part of the street and a half dozen police vehicles, fire lorries and two ambulances were there.

The Palestinian foreign ministry said it would send a delegation to Prague “to help with the investigation”.

* Reuters and Agence France-Presse