Logo 2021-10-04 05:10    Hamro Biratnagar

According to several Swedish media sources, Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who has lived under police protection since his 2007 sketch caricaturing the prophet Muhammad drew death threats, died in a car accident.

The artist's partner verified his death, according to the daily Dagens Nyheter, and police confirmed Vilks, 75, was traveling in the car with two police officers who also perished, according to the Swedish news agency TT. A civilian police car and a truck crashed and caught fire outside Markaryd on Sunday afternoon, according to authorities. The truck driver was brought to the hospital, and the accident's cause is still being investigated.

Vilks' presence was a key component of the Copenhagen terror attacks in 2015: he was the featured speaker at a free speech event in a cafe where an Islamist shooter opened fire, killing a film director and wounding three police officers before moving on to a synagogue and killing a volunteer guard.

“It is with dismay and great sadness that I received the news that our two colleagues and our security person died this afternoon,” stated National Police Chief Anders Thornberg. "My thoughts are with family, friends, and coworkers.”

“This is an extremely tragic event,” Stefan Sintéus, the head of the regional investigation team in charge of personal protection in the region, stated. "Now is the time for all of us to do everything possible to figure out what transpired on the scene and what caused the collision.”

Before his drawing, which represented the prophet Muhammad's head on the body of a dog, Vilks was mainly unknown outside of Sweden. He was most known in his own country for erecting a driftwood sculpture without authorization in a nature reserve in southern Sweden, resulting in a protracted court struggle. Despite the fact that he was fined, the seaside artwork - a mess of wood put together in a disorderly manner – attracts tens of thousands of tourists each year.

In September 2007, an al-Qaida faction in Iraq placed a $100,000 bounty on Vilks' head in reaction to his artwork.

After two Muslim men were arrested and accused in the Republic of Ireland in connection with an alleged conspiracy to assassinate Vilks, Swedish newspapers reproduced the controversial cartoon in 2010.

He's gotten countless death threats since then, and he's been under constant police protection since.

Jihad Jane, an American lady, was sentenced to ten years in prison in 2013 for plotting to kill him.

The Lars Vilks committee awarded the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo its freedom medal in October 2014, three months before the terrorist attack on its Paris headquarters.

Because he was in London at the time, Gerard Biard, the magazine's editor-in-chief, who accepted the prize in Copenhagen, escaped the attack.

Vilks added that, following the Charlie Hebdo attack, fewer organizations were requesting him to speak due to growing security concerns.