Exploding safe kills Palestinian envoy to Prague

Exploding safe kills Palestinian envoy to Prague
Firemen stand in front of the residence of Palestine ambassador, Jamal al-Jamal

PRAGUE - The Palestinian ambassador to the Czech Republic died after a blast at his Prague home, which police said was likely caused by the explosion of an anti-theft system on a safe he was opening.

Jamal al-Jamal, 56, suffered "very serious injuries" in the blast on Wednesday - believed to be an accident rather than a terror attack - and was taken to Prague's military hospital in an artificial coma, said Jirina Ernestova, spokeswoman for the emergency services.

Police later confirmed that he had died.

"The evidence the police have 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," police spokeswoman Andrea Zoulova told AFP.

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 Jamal, who was taken to hospital and operated on," the ministry said in a statement.

Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki hailed him as "an exemplary diplomat, who served his country and cause well".

Zoulova said police were not ruling out the possibility the safe was "mishandled", adding: "The victim has died so it will be harder to prove the cause."

Police searched a building next door which also belongs to the Palestinian embassy, but said they had not found any other explosives in the area.

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