Palestinian diplomat in Prague killed in blast at home
PRAGUE — The Palestinian ambassador to the Czech Republic died Wednesday in an explosion that occurred when he opened an old safe that had been left untouched for more than 20 years, officials said.
Ambassador Jamal al-Jamal, 56, was at home with his family at the time of the explosion, according to Palestinian Embassy spokesman Nabil El-Fahel. Al-Jamal was seriously injured and rushed to a hospital where he died, according to police spokeswoman Andrea Zoulova.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said no foul play was suspected, noting that the safe had been left untouched for more than 20 years.
It also appeared that the door of the safe had been booby-trapped, according to Zoulova.
The safe was recently moved from the old embassy building, but it had come from a building that used to house the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s offices in the 1980s, Malki said.
“The ambassador decided to open it. After he opened it, apparently something happened inside (the safe) and went off,” Malki told The Associated Press.
It was not immediately clear how Malki knew the safe had been untouched for more than 20 years or why and when the safe would have been booby-trapped.
“The safe was sitting neglected in one of the areas of the old embassy. It was in one of the corners. No one had touched it for 20 to 25 years,” Malki said.
The embassy recently moved to a new complex.
“The ambassador wanted to know what is in the safe,” Malki said. “He opened it and asked his wife to bring a paper and a pen to write down the contents of the safe. She left him to bring (the) pen and paper. During that time, she heard the sound of an explosion.”
Prague rescue service spokeswoman Jirina Ernestova said al-Jamal was placed in a medically induced coma when he first arrived at Prague Military Hospital. Dr. Daniel Langer, who works there, told public television that al-Jamal had suffered serious abdominal injuries, as well as injuries to his chest and head.