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Seven Arrested In Ireland Over Alleged Plot To Kill Swedish Cartoonist

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Police in the Irish Republic have arrested seven people in connection with an alleged plot to kill a Swedish cartoonist for depicting Prophet Mohammad with the body of a dog, said officials on Tuesday.

All those arrested in connection with the plot were Muslims, including four men and three women. Irish police officials said they were detained in raids across the south of the country on Tuesday morning.

Soon after their arrest, Irish police issued a statement saying that the arrest of the seven suspects were in connection with an ongoing investigation into a "conspiracy to murder an individual in another jurisdiction."

The Irish police statement came after Britain's Press Association news agency indicated that the alleged plot was to murder Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks for depicting Prophet Mohammad in an offensive manner.

The police, however, did not name Vilks as the target of the plot, but said that the investigation that led to the arrests of the seven suspects involved law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and several European countries.

Though the police statement did not identify the detained suspects, it said that their ages ranged from mid 20s to late 40s. Meanwhile, national broadcaster RTE indicated that the detained suspects were originally from Morocco and Yemen.

The cartoon in question had evoked widespread outrage among Muslims all over the world when it was first published by the Swedish newspaper Nerikes Allehanda in August 2007.

Conservative Muslims consider dogs to be unclean, and the Islamic law forbids depiction of the prophet over fears that it could lead to idol worship.

Following the publishing of the cartoon, Muslims in Sweden demanded an apology from the Nerikes Allehanda newspaper. But the newspaper refused to oblige and had stood firmly behind Vilks.

The cartoon prompted the al-Qaeda to put a $100,000 bounty on Vilks' head, with the global terror organization promising an extra $50,000 if the killer murdered the cartoonist by slitting his throat. Pakistan and Iran also lodged formal protests with the Swedish government over the issue.

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