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Palestinian ambassador in Prague killed by security mechanism on safe sealed for 30 years: report

Katerina Sulova / AP

Police at the residence (right back) of Palestinian ambassador to the Czech Republic Jamal Al Jamal, who was killed in an explosion at the property Wednesday.

The Palestinian ambassador to the Czech Republic was killed in an explosion when he tried to get into a safe which had been sealed for 30 years, the Palestinian foreign minister said.

The ambassador, Jamal al-Jamal, died of his injuries at the hospital after the blast in his home in the Czech capital on New Year's morning, Czech Republic Foreign Ministry spokesman David Frous told NBC News.

Frous declined to comment further, except to say it did not look likely the blast was an attack.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki told The Associated Press the safe was recently moved from an old embassy building and had not been opened in 30 years.

"The ambassador decided to open it. After he opened it, apparently something happened inside [the safe] and went off," Malki told The AP. 

Reuters, quoting a Czech government source, said the explosion was probably caused by a security device on the safe.

Some safes are fitted with mechanisms to destroy secret documents in the event they are tampered with.

The AP said it was unclear where the safe had been three decades ago, during the Cold War, or how the foreign minister could be sure it was sealed.

Prague rescue service spokeswoman Jirina Ernestova told the AP al-Jamal was placed in a medically induced coma when he first arrived in the hospital in Prague. Dr. Daniel Langer, who works there, told public television that al-Jamal had suffered serious abdominal injuries.

A 52-year old woman was taken from the scene of the explosion to a different hospital in Prague after suffering from shock, Ernestova said. She was not immediately identified. 

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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