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Muhammad cartoonist dies in car crash - reports



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Lars Vilks was under police protection because of his 2007 image of the Prophet Muhammad as a dog. EPA

London, Oct. 4: A Swedish artist who sketched the Prophet Muhammad's head on a dog's body has died in a traffic accident, according to local media.

Lars Vilks was reportedly travelling in a civilian police vehicle that collided with a truck near the town of Markaryd in southern Sweden.

Two police officers were also killed and the truck driver was injured. Vilks, 75, lived under police protection after being subjected to death threats over the cartoon.

The cartoon, published in 2007, offended many Muslims who regard the visual representation of the Prophet as blasphemous. It came a year after a Danish newspaper published cartoons of the Prophet.

Police have not revealed the identity of those killed in Sunday's incident, but Vilks's partner confirmed his death to Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

A statement from police said it was still unclear how the collision occurred, but initially, there was nothing to suggest that anyone else was involved.

The cartoon caused outrage and led then Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt to meet ambassadors from 22 Muslim countries in an attempt to defuse the situation.

Shortly afterwards, al-Qaeda in Iraq offered a $100,000 (£73,692) reward for his murder.

In 2015, Vilks attended a debate on free speech that was targeted in a gun attack in Copenhagen. He said he was probably the target of the attack, which killed a film director.

Although he is most famous for his sketch of Muhammad as a dog, Vilks was an artist and activist who often worked with paint or created installations.