Palestinian ambassador dies from blast in Prague residence

BY newsdesk  January 1, 2014 at 1:45 PM EDT

The Palestinian ambassador to the Czech Republic died Wednesday from an explosion at his apartment that officials said occurred when the diplomat opened an old safe that had remained untouched for more than 20 years.

Ambassador Jamel al-Jamal, 56, died at the hospital from serious abdominal injuries and injuries to the head and chest. Although the ambassador’s 52-year-old wife was also in the two-story residence, she was not harmed by the blast, Czech police officials said.

“There is nothing suggesting that a terrorist act was committed,” police spokeswoman Andrea Zoulova said. However, it did appear that the door to the safe had been booby-trapped.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said the blast was being investigated and also said there was no evidence of foul play. It’s not clear why the safe was outfitted with explosives.

“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 told the Associated Press.

The safe was moved from the old embassy building to the new Palestinian Embassy, which includes the ambassador’s residence.

“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.”

The ambassador’s wife alerted embassy employees and was treated for shock at the hospital, the AP reports.

Al-Jamal was appointed ambassador in Prague in October 2013. Previously, he had served as consul general in Alexandria, Egypt since 2005.