Firefighters search area after explosion..
(photo credit: Reuters)
The Palestinian Authority’s ambassador to Prague was killed on Wednesday at his
residence, in a blast that Czech police and PA sources said appeared to have
been an accident.
According to the police and the PA Foreign Ministry, an
explosive device detonated when ambassador Jamal al-Jamal opened a
“There is nothing suggesting that a terrorist act was committed,”
police spokeswoman Andrea Zoulova told reporters after the diplomat died in the
hospital on New Year’s Day.
The explosive device may have been part of a
security mechanism, she said.
The Palestinian Authority announced that it
would send a security team to Prague to investigate Jamal’s death.
56, had taken up his post only in October. He previously served as
consul-general in Alexandria, Egypt.
The PA Foreign Ministry said that he had suffered serious injuries after trying
to open an old safe that had recently been moved to his new home.
explosion occurred minutes after the ambassador opened the safe box,” the
According to Zoulova, “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.”
Some safes can be
fitted with small charges to destroy secret documents in the event of the lock
undergoing tampering. However, the Czech police left open the possibility that
another kind of explosive device had been involved.
PA Foreign Minister
Riad Malki ruled out the possibility that the ambassador had been killed as a
result of a terrorist attack.
Malki said that the explosion had not taken
place immediately after the ambassador opened the safe box.
opened the safe, he asked his wife to bring him a paper and pen,” Malki said.
“When the wife left the room, Jamal put his hand inside the safe and probably
touched a device that set off the explosion.”
Malki said the safe had
previously been in the old Palestinian embassy building in Prague. When the
embassy moved to a new location, the safe was taken along with everything else
that was inside.
According to the foreign minister, the safe was very old
and neglected, and none of the previous ambassadors or diplomats had tried to
A spokesman for the embassy, Nabil el-Fahel, said he had no
details on what it was that had blown up.
“We need to wait for the
results of the police investigation,” he said.
Jamal suffered lethal
injuries to his head, chest and abdomen, surgeon Daniel Langer told Czech
No one else was hurt in the explosion, police said, although
a spokeswoman for Prague’s emergency medical services said a 52-year-old woman
had been treated for smoke inhalation and shock.
Jamal’s family was at
home at the time of the blast.
No signs of damage to the two-story house
were visible from the outside, but police cordoned off part of the
Malki offered his condolences to the ambassador’s family, saying
he was a “model for a successful and hard-working diplomat who served his
homeland and cause.”
The WAFA news agency quoted Malki as saying that
Jamal had been “martyred in the line of duty.”
Jamal was born in Beirut
in 1957 to a Palestinian family that was originally from Jaffa. He joined Fatah
in 1975. Four years later, he was appointed assistant ambassador to Bulgaria. In
1984, he served as a diplomat in the Palestinian embassy in Prague. Two months
ago, he presented his credentials to the Czech president as ambassador.•