Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, known for his blasphemous depiction of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, dies in a car accident along with police officers who had been assigned to protect him.

In this file photo taken on March 11, 2010 Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks walks in the streets of Stockholm.
In this file photo taken on March 11, 2010 Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks walks in the streets of Stockholm. (AFP)

Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who lived under police protection after his 2007 blasphemous depiction of the Prophet Muhammad prompted death threats, has died in a car accident.

The 75-year-old and two police officers were killed in a collision with an oncoming truck on Sunday, Swedish police confirmed.

"This is being investigated like any other road accident. Because two policemen were involved, an investigation has been assigned to a special section of the prosecutor's office," said a police spokesperson, adding that there was no suspicion of foul play.

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The accident occurred near the small town Markaryd when the car Vilks was travelling in crashed into an oncoming truck.
Both vehicles caught fire and the truck driver was hospitalised, according to police.

In a statement, the police said the cause of the accident was unclear.

"The person we were protecting and two colleagues died in this inconceivable and terribly sad tragedy," said regional police head Carina Persson.

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Outrage over caricature

Vilks had been under police protection since his 2007 caricature of Prophet Muhammad that prompted outrage among Muslims, who consider any depictions of the Muslim prophet deeply offensive or blasphemous.

Al Qaeda had offered a $100,000 reward for Vilks' murder.

The depiction also sparked diplomatic friction, with Sweden's then prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt meeting ambassadors from several Muslim countries to ease tensions.

In 2015, Vilks survived a gun attack at a free-speech conference in Copenhagen that left a Danish film director dead.

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Source: AFP