PRAGUE -- A total of 12 illegal weapons were found at the Palestinian embassy complex where a possible booby-trapped safe killed the ambassador, police said 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 Wednesday after an embassy safe exploded. The career diplomat had only started his posting in October.

Deputy Palestinian Foreign Minister Taysir Jaradat said Sunday 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 Sunday.

"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 also sent many students to local universities.


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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.

Mohammed Daraghmeh contributed to this report from Ramallah, West Bank.