Sun, Jan 03, 2010 - Page 1 News List

Police shoot axe-wielding man at cartoonist's house

ATTEMPTED MURDER CHARGEThe head of Denmark's intelligence agency said the 28-year-old Somali man had close relations with terror organizations in eastern Africa


Police shot a Somali man wielding an axe and a knife after he broke into the home of an artist whose cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed with a bomb-shaped turban outraged the Muslim world, the head of Denmark’s intelligence agency said yesterday.

Jakob Scharf said in a statement that a 28-year-old man with ties to al-Qaeda entered Kurt Westergaard’s home in Aarhus on Friday night, but Westergaard pressed an alarm and police arrived minutes later.

The attack on the artist, whose rendering was among 12 that led to the torching of Danish diplomatic offices in predominantly Muslim countries in 2006, was “terror related,” Scharf said.

He said the man would be charged with attempted murder.

Westergaard and his five-year-old granddaughter was in the home on a sleepover, sought shelter in a specially made safe room when the suspect broke a window of the home, Preben Nielsen of the Aarhus police said.

Officers arrived two minutes later and tried to arrest the assailant, who wielded an axe at a police officer. The officer then shot the man in a knee and a hand, authorities said.

Nielsen said the suspect was hospitalized, but his life was not in danger.

The suspect’s name was not released in line with Danish privacy rules.

“The arrested man has, according to PET’s information, close relations to the Somali terrorist group al-Shabab and al-Qaeda leaders in eastern Africa,” Scharf said.

PET is Denmark’s intelligence agency.

Scharf said, without elaborating, that the man is suspected of having been involved in terror-related activities in east Africa. He had been under PET’s surveillance, but not in connection with Westergaard, he said.

The man, who had a permit to stay in Denmark, was to be charged yesterday with attempted murder for trying to kill Westergaard and the police officer, Scharf said.

The suspect got inside the home of the 75-year-old cartoonist in Denmark’s second-largest city, 200km northwest of Copenhagen.

Westergaard could not be reached for comment.

He told his employer, however, the Jyllands-Posten daily, that the assailant shouted “revenge” and “blood” as he tried to enter the bathroom where Westergaard and the child had sought shelter.

“My grandchild did fine,” Westergaard said. “It was scary. It was close. Really close, but we did it.”

Westergaard was “quite shocked,” but was not injured, Nielsen said.

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