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Thursday, January 8, 1998 Published at 12:51 GMT

World: Europe

Feminists claim responsibility for statue attack
image: [ The statue is a fraction of her former self ]
The statue is a fraction of her former self

A Danish feminist group has claimed responsibility for the decapitation of the Little Mermaid statue on the Copenhagen waterfront.

The group, calling itself the Radical Feminist Fraction, claims to have carried out the action "to create a symbol of the sexually-fixated and misogynist male dream of women as being bodies without heads".

The claim was sent to police in Copenhagen on a fax from a shop in the city centre on Wednesday afternoon. Detectives are now studying film from the store's in-house video camera.

But Danish police are not convinced the claim is genuine: "I cannot recognise this activist group, although a lot of fractions of this type exist," said detective inspector Niels Abildgaard.

"The fact is that anybody could have written this declaration but we are taking it seriously and conducting a full investigation."

[ image: Her head is still missing]
Her head is still missing
Few clues have emerged about the second beheading in 35 years of the famous statue on Copenhagen's waterfront, which has shocked the Danish public and worried tourism officials.

The statue was found severed at the neck by a saw or grinding machine after an anonymous call to a local television cameraman before dawn on Tuesday.

Frogmen scouring the harbour near the statue were unable to find the Little Mermaid's bronze head and two youths on roller skates seen near the landmark early on Tuesday morning have not responded to police requests to help in the investigation.

Police also failed to find fingerprints on the torso of the damaged statue, which has now been boarded up at its waterfront site.

One theory is that the beheading might be the work of the same person who sawed off a 19th century galleon figurehead at a naval base in Copenhagen just before Christmas.

The severed figurehead was found in the ladies' toilets of a department store on Tuesday, the day the Little Mermaid was beheaded, giving rise to police suspicions that a mentally disturbed woman may be behind the two decapitations.

The Little Mermaid has been decapitated once before, in 1964. And since taking up her vigil on her harbourside rock in 1913, the statue, the work of sculptor Edvard Eriksen, has had her arm amputated and been frequently daubed with paint and graffiti.

Based on the fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen about the Sea King's half human, half fish daughter who must wait on her rock for 300 years before entering the world of humans, the Little Mermaid attracts almost one million tourists a year.

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