September 11, 2010 / 6:30 PM / 8 years ago

Denmark raises terror preparedness after hotel blast

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark raised its terror attack preparedness on Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States, after a man set off a small explosion in a Copenhagen hotel on Friday.

Police with sniffer dogs walk outside Hotel Jorgensen in Copenhagen September 10, 2010. REUTERS/Jens Norgaard Larsen/Scanpix

Daily newspaper Ekstrabladet, citing police sources, said police had found a map with the address of daily Jyllands-Posten’s headquarters in the city of Arhus circled among the man’s belongings.

Jyllands-Posten’s publication in 2005 of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad provoked protests in the Middle East, Africa and Asia in which at least 50 people died.

Last year a plot to attack the paper was unveiled and in January the creator of the most controversial cartoon escaped an axe attack by a man with al Qaeda links.

A Copenhagen court ruled on Saturday the man would be detained in custody until October 4 on suspicion of aiming to put others’ lives at risk, a police spokesman said.

“With an overall assessment of the information, we cannot rule out that preparation for something terror-related has occurred,” Copenhagen Chief Police Inspector Jorn Aabye told a news conference.

Jakob Scharf, head of the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET), said in a statement: “There are circumstances that point in the direction of an unsuccessful terror attack.”

They did not elaborate but said it could also not be ruled out that the man had accomplices.

“Due to this, we have taken a number of measures to protect potential terror targets and to sharpen the police’s attention regarding suspect situations.”

A PET spokeswoman said that while police and airports had slightly raised their preparedness level against militant attacks, PET has not changed its assessment of the general level of terror threat against Denmark.

“It is fairly high already,” she said.

SUSPECT NOT COOPERATING

After the explosion, police surrounded the suspect in Orsted Park and security personnel removed a bag wrapped around his waist with remote controlled cutting pliers.

The man has injuries to his face and arm from the blast, police said. No one else was hurt.

A police spokesman said on Friday the bag probably did not contain explosives as it had not exploded when shot at. Aabye declined on Saturday to say what had been in the bag, and also what had else had been found at the hotel so far.

The suspect, who remains in hospital, was not cooperating

with police and his identity is not yet known, Aabye said.

He said the suspect appeared to be European or North African and around 40 years old and spoke excellent English.

Police found a gun at the Hotel Jorgensen in central Copenhagen where the blast occurred in a toilet on Friday.

In its latest assessment of the terror threat against Denmark, PET said that threat was intensified by a high prioritisation of Denmark as a terrorist target by militant groups. “

“Regardless of the background for the bomb detonation, it is important that we don’t allow ourselves to be guided by fear or change the way we live,” Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said in a statement.

Editing by Angus MacSwan

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