The Swedish artist who controversially drew a picture of the Prophet Muhammad as a dog has died in a car crash.
Lars Vilks, 75, was travelling in a police car when the vehicle collided with a truck at around 15.30pm on Sunday 3 October outside Markaryd in Sweden.
The artist had lived under police protection since he drew the picture in 2007.
According to a Swedish newspaper, Expressen, the vehicle was on the wrong side of the road at the time of the crash.
Vilks and the two police officers in the car all lost their lives.
In a statement, the Swedish police have said: “On Sunday afternoon, an accident occurred on the E4 outside Markaryd when a civilian police car and a truck collided.”
AFP via Getty Images)
“It is with dismay and great sadness that I received the news that our two colleagues and our security person died this afternoon. “
“The investigation into the police’s actions in the accident is now led by a prosecutor at the special prosecution chamber as the accident involved police employees,” they added.
While the statement says that “there is initially nothing to suggest that anyone else was involved,” the police are investigating the cause of the collision.
Vilks had become a target for terror attacks after a newspaper, Nerikes Allehanda, published the blasphemous drawing in 2007 with the headline ‘the right to ridicule religion’.
This sparked controversy across the world, with protests erupting in a number of Muslim countries and leaders publicly condemning the artwork.
Ambassadors from Muslim countries met with the then prime minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, in an attempt to calm tensions.
The Swedish artist has since been on Al-Qaeda and ISIS’ hit list, with Al-Qaeda putting a $100,000 bounty on his head.
In February 2015, Vilks was speaking at the Art, Blasphemy and Freedom of Expression event in Copenhagen when gunmen opened fire and killed one person.
He was thought to be the main target of the attack where a film director was killed and three police officers were injured.
There have been a number of attempts on his life since the controversy.
In 2010, two men in Ireland were arrested for plotting to murder the artist, and the infamous American terrorist Colleen LaRose, known as ‘Jihad Jane’, had also been imprisoned for planning to murder him.
She had travelled to Sweden in an attempt to murder him, but she was jailed for ten years in 2014 after the plan was unsuccessful.
Vilks has also been a target of the Somali Islamic group Al-Shaabab, who had in a video threatened him life.
In September 2011 three men were arrested on suspicion of planning to kill Vilks in a terror attack in Gothenburg.
According to local newspapers, the police had both a helicopter and a dog handler searching the area of the attack on Sunday.