- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 3, 2008

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan | A huge car bomb exploded outside the Danish Embassy on Monday, killing at least six people just weeks after an al Qaeda leader urged attacks against Denmark over newspaper caricatures of the prophet Muhammad.

The blast echoed through the Pakistani capital, wounded dozens of people and left a crater at least 3 feet deep in the road outside the embassy’s main gate. People, some bloodied, ran away in a state of panic.

Glass, fallen masonry and dozens of wrecked vehicles littered the area. A perimeter wall of the embassy collapsed, its metal gate was blown inward and its windows were shattered, but the embassy building itself remained standing.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but al Qaeda’s No. 2 man, Ayman al-Zawahri, recently called for attacks on Danish targets in response to the publication of caricatures in Danish newspapers depicting Muhammad.

The bombing was the worst anti-Danish attack since the cartoons appeared in 2006.

“Denmark will not alter its policy because of a terror attack,” Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters in Copenhagen. “We will not give in to terrorists.”

Officials said that at least six people - including two policemen - were killed and that 35 people were wounded in the blast. The only foreign national reported hurt was a Brazilian woman working at the Danish Embassy.

Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller said the explosion killed a Pakistani cleaner and a handyman at the embassy and injured two office workers.

Policeman Muhammad Ashraf said explosion appeared to be from a car bomb. Senior police Officer Ahmed Latif said it was likely a suicide bombing.

Denmark faced threats at its embassies after a dozen newspapers in February reprinted a depiction of Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban. That and other images in a Danish paper sparked riots in the Muslim world in 2006.

Islamic law generally opposes any depiction of the prophet for fear that it could lead to idolatry.

Mr. Moeller also said Taliban militants “who wanted to hit us because we are in Afghanistan” also could be behind the blast. Denmark withdrew its troops from Iraq last year but has more than 600 soldiers in the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan.

The Norwegian and Swedish governments immediately closed their embassies. The homes of the Dutch ambassador, the Australian defense attache and the Indian ambassador, all located near the Danish Embassy, were damaged. No one was injured.

The U.S. Embassy urged Americans to use extra caution when traveling through Islamabad and to avoid the blast site.

In April, embassy personnel from the Netherlands shifted to a luxury hotel in Islamabad because of concerns about the release of a film critical of the Koran, made by a Dutch parliament member.

Monday’s attack follows a bombing in March at a restaurant in Islamabad that killed a Turkish aid worker and wounded at least 12 others, including at least four FBI personnel.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack called the blast “a terrible terrorist attack” and said the United States would help the victims of the attack, including helping to relocate diplomats whose residences were destroyed.

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