Dozen illegal weapons found in Palestinian embassy in Prague, police say

| Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, 8:42 p.m.

PRAGUE — A total of 12 illegal weapons were found in the Palestinian embassy complex where a possibly booby-trapped safe killed the ambassador, police said on Sunday.

The deputy Palestinian foreign minister, however, denied the weapons were illegal.

Police spokeswoman Andrea Zoulova declined to give more details, citing the investigation.

Ambassador Jamal al-Jamal, 56, died on Wednesday when an embassy safe exploded. The career diplomat had started his posting in October.

Deputy Palestinian Foreign Minister Taysir Jaradat said on Sunday that he met with his Czech counterpart and was asked about the weapons.

“We told them that these guns have been in the embassy for a long time — going back to the former regime of Czechoslovakia — and these guns were either licensed in the embassy or were given as gifts to the ambassador,” he told Voice of Palestine radio station. “They are not in use.”

During the Cold War, the Palestine Liberation Organization had strong ties with the Soviet Union and eastern bloc countries, including Czechoslovakia, Romania and east Germany.

The PLO maintained diplomatic missions across the eastern bloc, sent fighters for training courses in eastern Europe and sent many students to local universities.

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has a Ph.D. from a Soviet university.

It remains unclear what caused the safe to explode, but the ambassador's death is being investigated as a case of negligence.

Residents in the Suchdol district, where the new embassy complex is based, have lodged security concerns over the incident.

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