PRAGUE: The Palestinian ambassador to the Czech Republic, Jamal al-Jamal, was killed by a blast in his Prague residence on Wednesday, police said, ruling out a terror attack.
“With regret, we confirm this information (on his death) provided by the emergency services,” Prague police spokeswoman Andrea Zoulova told AFP.
“The evidence the police has doesn’t suggest anything like a terror attack or that a specific person would set up a system with the intention to hurt or kill anyone,” she added.
Daniel Langer, surgeon at the Prague military hospital to which Jamal was taken, told Czech television the ambassador had suffered devastating “head, belly and chest injuries following an explosion.”
Jamal, who took office in October, had only recently moved to the new residence on the northern outskirts of Prague.
The Palestinian foreign ministry said the blast occurred on Wednesday morning as Jamal “was opening an old safe which had been brought from the previous embassy (building) to the new one.”
“Minutes after opening the safe the explosion took place, causing serious injury to Ambassador Jamal who was taken to hospital and operated on,” the ministry said in a statement.
Zoulova said the blast was probably caused by an anti-theft system on the door of the safe.
“We cannot rule out mishandling the device. The victim has died so it will be harder to prove the cause,” she said, adding the police were also searching a building next door which also belongs to the Palestinian embassy.
Quoting sources close to the police investigation, the Novinky.cz news site said the police had found “a significant quantity of weapons and explosives” in the building.
“I cannot confirm this information right now,” said Zoulova.
“Emergency services treated a 56-year-old man who suffered very serious injuries and was taken to Prague’s military hospital in an artificial coma,” spokeswoman Jirina Ernestova said shortly after the blast.
“A 52-year-old woman was taken to another hospital because of smoke inhalation and a stress reaction,” Ernestova told AFP.
Embassy spokesman Nabil al-Fahel told Czech radio that the ambassador’s entire family had been in the residence when the blast occurred.
The Palestinian foreign ministry said it would “send a high-level delegation to Prague (on Thursday) to speak with Czech officials and cooperate in the investigation into the cause of the explosion.”