Palestinian ambassador to the Czech Republic Jamel al-Jamal killed in Prague explosion while moving safe

 

The Palestinian ambassador to the Czech Republic has died after an explosion at his apartment in Prague, police have said.

Jamel al-Jamal, a veteran of Palestinian diplomacy, was moving a safe around the flat in the city's northern Suchdol neighbourhood, having only recently moved in.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said no foul play was suspected, noting that the safe had been left untouched for more than 20 years. 

The safe was recently moved from the old embassy building, but it had come from a building that used to house the Palestinian Liberation Organisation's offices in the 1980s. 

Malki told The Associated Press news agency: "The ambassador wanted to know what is in the safe. 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."

Al-Jamel, 56, was taken to hospital after the blast, which happened before midday on Wednesday. His wife, 52, who called embassy employees to seek help, was treated for shock at the hospital but released.

Police cordoned off part of the street and a half dozen police vehicles, firetrucks and two ambulances were there.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said it would send a delegation to Prague "to help with the investigation".

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.

Al-Jamal was born in 1957, in Beirut's Sabra and Shatilla refugee camp. His family is originally from Jaffa in what is now Israel. 

He joined Fatah in 1975 and was appointed deputy ambassador in Bulgaria in 1979.

Starting in 1984, he served as a diplomat in Prague, eventually as acting ambassador. From 2005-2013, he served as consul general in Alexandria, Egypt. In October 2013, he was appointed ambassador in Prague.

 

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