Palestinian Ambassador to Czech Republic dies after blast at residence

palestinian-ambassador-prague-blast.siThe Palestinian ambassador in Prague has died after being fatally injured in an explosion that shook his official residence on Wednesday, Czech police said. Jamal al-Jamal died several hours after being taken to the hospital, authorities said.

The blast occurred before midday in Internacionalni Street in the Suchdol neighbourhood, police spokeswoman Andrea Zoulova. The Suchdol district houses many embassies and foreign diplomatic missions. The ambassador’s newly constructed residence has been set to become the Palestinian Embassy in the Czech Republic.

The ambassador was with his family in the house as the explosion occurred, embassy spokesman Nabil el-Fahel said. He added that the cause of the incident is so far unknown.

Between 10 and 20 police vehicles and a helicopter arrived at the embassy shortly after the explosion was reported to the emergency services. The scene where the explosion took place and part of the residential compound have been closed to traffic, Czech Radio reported. Explosives experts with sniffer dogs have inspected the building.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the blast happened when the diplomat tried to open a safe that had been moved from the embassy’s old offices, the Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

There is no evidence that the explosion was a terrorist attack, said Zoulova. She added that the explosive might have been part of the security mechanism on the safe.

“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.”

There are conflicting reports as to whether anyone else was injured in the blast. Reuters reported that the ambassador was the sole victim of the explosion, while some local media cited by Itar-Tass say a woman, supposedly the ambassador’s relative, was also injured in the blast, according to a spokesman for the Motol hospital, where she is being treated.