No sign of foul play in Prophet Mohammed cartoonist death: Swedish police

Lars Vilks lived under protection after his 2007 depiction of the Prophet Mohammed prompted death threats.

FILE: Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks walks in the streets of Stockholm in March 2010. Picture: FRANCOIS CAMPREDON/AFP

STOCKHOLM - There is so far no sign of foul play in the car crash that killed Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who lived under protection after his 2007 depiction of the Prophet Mohammed prompted death threats, police said on Monday.

Vilks died together with two police bodyguards on Sunday in a collision with an oncoming truck near the small town of Markaryd in southern Sweden.

"We want to completely exclude an external act targeting the car in which Lars Vilks found himself," Stefan Sinteus, chief of the South Sweden regional investigation unit, told a press conference.

"There is nothing to indicate that, but we want to be certain so we can rule it out," he added.

Police said they have yet to determine the reason why the vehicle that was carrying Vilks and the two officers swerved off the road, breaking through a metal barrier before hitting a truck travelling in the opposite direction in the oncoming lane. A tyre explosion is one of the hypotheses.

Both vehicles then caught fire and all three passengers died at the scene. The driver of the truck was injured and taken to hospital where he was questioned by investigators.

75-year-old Vilks lived under almost continuous police protection due to numerous threats and attacks from Islamists after his 2007 caricature depicting Mohammed as a dog was published in a Swedish newspaper.

But on Monday police said there had been no new concrete threats against him recently.

On 14 February 2015, a young Danish man of Palestinian origin opened fire when he tried to storm a debate on freedom of expression in Copenhagen, organised after the deadly attack on the Paris offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Vilks escaped unharmed but a 55-year-old Danish film director and a guard at Copenhagen synagogue were both shot dead by the gunman, who was himself killed in a stand-off with Danish police.

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