RAMALLAH, West Bank -- The newly appointed Palestinian ambassador to the Czech Republic died Wednesday shortly after he was injured by an explosion when he opened an old safe in his Prague residence, according to a statement by the Palestinian Foreign Ministry.
Jamal Jamal, who assumed his post in October, opened the safe after it was moved from the previous site of the Palestinian mission, the ministry said. He was taken to a hospital in critical condition and later pronounced dead.
Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki said a delegation headed by his deputy will travel to Prague on Thursday to follow up on the investigation with Czech police and make arrangements to bring the body home for burial.
Malki said he instructed the embassy to allow police to enter the premises and investigate the scene of the explosion.
Reuters news service quoted Czech police spokeswoman Andrea Zoulova saying, “There is nothing suggesting that a terrorist act was committed.” She said the blast could have been triggered by a device set to destroy documents in case of tampering with the safe.
“The possibilities include inexpert handling of an explosive device or its spontaneous detonation," she said. "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.”
No one in Jamal’s family in the building at the time was hurt and no significant damage was done to the structure, suggesting the device was a small one.
Jamal was born in Beirut in 1957 to a Palestinian refugee family. He served in several diplomatic posts during his career, including at the embassy in Prague in 1984, and was consul general in Egypt before he was appointed as ambassador in Prague in October.
Jamal was “an example of a successful diplomat who was diligent in serving his country and his cause,” Malki said.
Abukhater is a special correspondent.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun