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Eight persons killed in embassy attack allegedly in reprisal for prophet cartoons

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders condemns the suicide bombing of the Danish embassy in Islamabad on 2 June 2008, which has been claimed by a branch of Al Qaeda in an online message purportedly posted by the terrorist organisation. The bombing, which killed eight people and wounded about 30 others, was a reprisal for the Mohammed cartoons published in Denmark, the message said.

"It is understandable that many Muslims throughout the world took offence at these cartoons of the Prophet, but this does not in any way justify the use of violence, whether against journalists or diplomatic missions," Reporters Without Borders said.

Seven Pakistanis and a Danish citizen of Pakistani origin were killed by the suicide car bombing which, according to Danish investigators, was prepared well in advance. The car was able to get close to the embassy building because it had false diplomatic plates and it approached shortly after security guards had been replaced.

The embassy had until recently been getting special protection, which was introduced after the Mohammed cartoons were reprinted in several Danish newspapers in February and death threats were made against one of the cartoonists.

The claim of responsibility was made in an email message that was posted the day after the bombing on online forums often used by Islamist militants. In the message, whose authenticity has not been confirmed, the commander of Al Qaeda operations in Afghanistan, Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, said the bombing was "in retaliation against the infidel nation [Denmark] that published cartoons hostile to Allah's messenger."

Denmark has been repeatedly criticised and threatened since the cartoons were first published on 30 September 2005 and their reproduction in media around the world has prompted much debate about respect for Islam and respect for press freedom. They have also triggered violence in many Muslim countries in the Middle East and Asia and journalists have been threatened and prosecuted for reprinting them or posting them online.

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