Czech police find 12 weapons at Palestinian mission: report

Reuters

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Czech police found 12 weapons, including pistols and sub-machine guns, at the Palestinian mission in Prague after an explosion killed the ambassador at his residence last week, the police chief was quoted as saying on Sunday.

Police said the explosion that killed ambassador Jamal al-Jamal after he opened a safe might have been caused by mishandling a device meant to secure it.

After the incident, investigators found unlicensed weapons at the complex of the Palestinian mission that includes the embassy and residence. But the police had not immediately detailed the amount or type of weapons.

Daily newspaper Mlada Fronta Dnes' website idnes.cz reported that 12 weapons discovered, confirming the number with national police chief Martin Cervicek, who declined to say how many pistols or sub-machine guns were found.

"We have to put the weapons through genetic and ballistic testing, until then we will not release this information," idnes.cz quoted Cervicek as saying.

A police spokeswoman was not available to comment.

A Palestinian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters on Thursday that the mission's staff had submitted the arms to the Czech authorities. He said the weapons had been retrieved from an old sack and had been untouched since Cold War times.

Czech police were not investigating the safe explosion as an attack, although the ambassador's daughter has alleged he was "deliberately killed".

Adding to the uncertainty, an embassy spokesman said mission staff were not aware of any explosives in the safe, which he said was used on a regular basis.

The Palestinian mission was in the process of moving into new premises in a Prague suburb when the blast killed the ambassador at his residence on New Year's Day.

It was not yet the official site of the mission and so did not enjoy the diplomatic immunity that normally prevents host country officials from entering diplomatic missions without permission.

The discovery of the unlicensed weapons prompted the Czech Foreign Ministry to say it would demand an explanation.

Jamal suffered lethal injuries to his head, chest and abdomen. He had been in Prague only since October but had previously served at the mission for two decades from the mid-1980s, his daughter said.

(Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Jan Lopatka and Rosalind Russell)

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