Palestinian diplomat killed in explosion in Prague

Posted at 11:45 AM, Jan 01, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-01 11:45:15-05

(CNN) — A Palestinian diplomat died Wednesday of injuries suffered in an explosion inside his house in the northern Prague neighborhood of Suchdol, police said.

Police identified the victim as Jamal al Jamal, 57. He died after he was taken to Prague Military Hospital and placed in an induced coma.

The Czech police president, Martin Cervicek, told Czech Public Service Broadcasting that authorities were not treating the incident as a terrorist attack.

The TV report said the blast was most likely caused by “dangerous manipulation with a strong-box.”

Police were investigating the possibility that al Jamal himself was “manipulating with explosives,” police spokeswoman Andrea Zoulova told CNN.

She added that authorities found evidence of explosives in the debris.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry announced that the explosion occurred a few minutes after al Jamal had opened an old safe that had been moved from the old diplomatic mission to his two-story house, which was being readied to house the new diplomatic mission.

In a statement, the ministry said it would send a high-level delegation to Prague on Thursday “to communicate and to cooperate with the Czech (Republic) in the investigation to determine the cause of the explosion.”

The house was newly constructed, according to CTK, a state-run news agency.

The blast, which occurred at about 12:30 p.m. (6:30 a.m. ET), also injured al Jamal’s 52-year-old wife, who was taken to Motol Hospital after inhaling smoke and suffering from shock, said Jirina Ernestova, a spokeswoman for Prague Emergency Services.

The couple’s son, who was also in the house at the time of the blast, was not hurt, police said.

Al Jamal had been a diplomat in the Czech Republic since last October, according to CTK.

CNN’s Tom Watkins contributed to this report.