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Palestinian diplomat killed in explosion in Prague

From Ivana Kottasova, CNN
January 1, 2014 -- Updated 1737 GMT (0137 HKT)
Police guard the residence of Palestinian diplomat Jamal al Jamal in the city of Prague in the Czech Republic.
Police guard the residence of Palestinian diplomat Jamal al Jamal in the city of Prague in the Czech Republic.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: "The explosive device was probably part" of a safe's security mechanism, police say
  • Police identify the dead man as Jamal al Jamal, 57
  • His wife was taken to a hospital after inhaling smoke and suffering from shock
  • Their son was not hurt

(CNN) -- A Palestinian diplomat died Wednesday of injuries from an explosion possibly related to improper handling of a safe 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.

"Experts have determined that the explosion occurred when a safe in the ambassador's living room was opened," Prague Police spokeswoman Andrea Zoulova told CNN. "The explosion was most likely caused by dangerous or unqualified manipulation with the safety box by the ambassador himself. The explosive device was probably part of the safety mechanism of the safe."

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

However, police said the investigation was ongoing; a glitch in the system might have caused the explosion, or the device could have been wrongly set.

But Zoulova stressed that the incident was not related to terrorism. "There is not a single piece of evidence that would suggest this was a terrorist attack," she said.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry announced that the explosion occurred 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.

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