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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 February 2008, 20:11 GMT
Danish cartoons 'plotters' held
Protesters burn a Danish flag in Pakistan in February
The row saw Danish flags being burnt in Muslim states
Danish police have arrested three people suspected of planning to attack a cartoonist who drew caricatures satirising the Prophet Muhammad.

Intelligence agents said two Tunisians and a Dane of Moroccan origin had been arrested in Aarhus at 0330 GMT "to prevent a murder linked to terrorism".

The editor of the newspaper that first published the caricatures said he had been deeply shaken by news of the plot.

The pictures printed by Jyllands-Posten sparked violent protests two years ago.

Danish embassies were attacked around the world and dozens died in riots.

'Concrete plans'

In a statement, the head of the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET), Jakob Sharf, said its operatives had carried out pre-dawn raids in the Aarhus region.

The detentions of the three suspects had been made "after lengthy surveillance", he added.

The Danish citizen will be released pending further investigation, while the Tunisians will be held until they are expelled from the country.

Kurt Westergaard (15/09/2006)
I have turned fear into anger and resentment
Kurt Westergaard
Cartoonist

The PET did not identify the target of the alleged plot, but the online edition of Jyllands-Posten said its cartoonist, Kurt Westergaard, was the focus.

The newspaper, based in Aarhus, said Mr Westergaard, 73, and his 66-year-old wife, Gitte, had been under police protection for the past three months.

In a statement on Jyllands-Posten's website, Mr Westergaard said: "Of course I fear for my life when the police intelligence service say that some people have concrete plans to kill me.

"But I have turned fear into anger and resentment."

The editor of Jyllands-Posten, Carsten Juste, said he and his staff had been "deeply shaken" by the news.

"We'd become more or less used to death threats and bomb threats since the cartoons, but it's the first time that we've heard about actual murder plans - that's new," he said.

Muslim anger

The BBC's Thomas Buch-Andersen in Copenhagen says the arrests have stunned people in Denmark, where the furore over the cartoons was thought to have passed.

Map

Mr Westergaard was one of 12 artists behind the drawings but he was responsible for what was considered the most controversial of the pictures.

The caricature featured the head of Islam's holiest prophet with a turban depicting a bomb with a lit fuse.

The cartoons were later reprinted by more than 50 newspapers, triggering a wave of protests in parts of the Muslim world.

The demonstrations culminated a year ago with the torching of Danish diplomatic offices in Damascus and Beirut and dozens of deaths in Nigeria, Libya and Pakistan.

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