COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Danish police played down a media report on Sunday that a man who set off a blast at a Copenhagen hotel was preparing to attack a Danish newspaper which published controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.
Citing police sources, Tabloid Ekstrabladet said that the man, who has been detained, had a map with the address of daily Jyllands-Posten’s headquarters in the city of Arhus circled — and that police saw this as an indication the man planned an attack on the paper.
“The information Ekstrabladet has put forward is not correct. We base our work on the thesis that Jyllands-Posten may be a target, but those are two different things,” Police Inspector Svend Foldager told a news conference in the Danish capital. He declined to comment when asked whether police had found such a map.
Jyllands-Posten’s publication in 2005 of the cartoons ignited protests in the Middle East, Africa and Asia in which at least 50 people died and Danish embassies were torched.
Last year a plot to attack the newspaper was discovered, and in January the creator of the most controversial cartoon escaped an axe attack at his home by a man with al Qaeda links.
Foldager said police could not rule out the possibility the suspect had been preparing a terror attack.
His identity and motives for setting off a the blast at the Hotel Jorgensen in central Copenhagen remained a mystery since he was refusing to cooperate with the police.
“That is a big problem,” Foldager said.
Police released a description on Sunday of the man, believed to be around 40 years old, and asked the public for tips.
Foldager said the suspect had false identity papers from three European countries, spoke French and also English and German, and had bought a bus ticket to Belgium for Friday afternoon. It was not known when he came to Denmark and how.
Video surveillance footage showed the man spent 38 minutes in the toilet of the hotel before setting off the blast, which police said came from a small amount of explosive.
Foldager said there was no indication that the mystery man had any accomplices.
A court has remanded the man in custody until October 4 on suspicion of intending to put others’ lives at risk.
Security authorities have said they cannot rule out that the blast may have been a failed attempt at terrorism.
Police, airports and authorities in Denmark raised their preparedness against militant attacks after the blast, but the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) did not change its assessment of the general level of terror threat against Denmark, which it classifies as “fairly high already.”
After the explosion, police surrounded the suspect in Orsted Park near the hotel, and a bomb squad removed a bag wrapped around his waist with remote controlled cutting pliers.
The man suffered injuries to his face and arm from the blast at the hotel. No one else was hurt.
Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton