Denmark and Sweden have arrested five people they suspect were plotting an "imminent" terror attack on a newspaper that printed cartoon images of the Prophet Muhammad.
The Danish Security and Intelligence Service, known as PET, said three of the four men were residents of Sweden and had entered Denmark overnight Tuesday. The fifth suspect was a 37-year-old Swedish citizen of Tunisian origin living in Stockholm.
PET said the group had been planning to enter the building where the newspaper Jyllands-Posten has its Copenhagen newsdesk and had wanted "to kill as many of the people present as possible."
Searches carried out after Wednesday's arrests uncovered a machine gun with a matching silencer and live ammunition, and plastic strips that can be used as handcuffs, the intelligence agency said.
"These arrests made it possible to prevent an imminent terror attack, in which several of the suspects can be labeled militant Islamists with links to international terror networks," Jakob Scharf, General Director of PET, said in a statement.
Under Islamic tradition, images of the Prophet are banned, and the publication by Jyllands-Posten in 2005 of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad sparked protests by Muslim communities around the world.
"It is shocking for our employees and their families to once again see their place of work threatened," Jyllands Posten Chief Executive Lars Munch told the paper's website. "We already have an elevated level of security and we are in contact with the PET."
PET said the Danish arrests, made at two apartments on the outskirts of the capital, Copenhagen, were preceded by an extensive investigation conducted in close cooperation with the Swedish Security Service, Sapo.
Arrested were a 44-year-old Tunisian national, a 29-year-old Lebanese-born Swedish national, a 30-year-old Swede whose country of origin was not yet known, and a 26-year-old Iraqi asylum seeker living in Denmark.
At the same time, Swedish authorities arrested a 37-year-old Swedish national of Tunisian origin.