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Gunmen Shot Dead After Opening Fire At Muhammad Cartoon Contest

Two gunmen were killed Sunday after opening fire on a security officer outside a controversial contest for cartoon depictions of Prophet Muhammad in Texas, and a bomb squad was called in to search their vehicle as a precaution, authorities said.

Via CBS News reports:

The men drove up to the Curtis Culwell Center in the Dallas suburb of Garland as the contest was scheduled to end and began shooting at a security officer, the City of Garland said in a statement. Garland police officers returned fire, killing the men.

“Because of the situation of what was going on today and the history of what we’ve been told has happened at other events like this, we are considering their car (is) possibly containing a bomb,” Officer Joe Harn, a spokesman for the Garland Police Department, said at a news conference.

Police are not aware of any ongoing threat and had not received any credible threats before the event, Harn said.

Harn said it was not immediately clear whether the shooting was connected to the event inside, a contest hosted by the New York-based American Freedom Defense Initiative that would award $10,000 for the best cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

Such drawings are deemed insulting to many followers of Islam and have sparked violence around the world. According to mainstream Islamic tradition, any physical depiction of the Prophet Muhammad – even a respectful one – is considered blasphemous.

Authorities hadn’t removed the bodies of the gunmen, who hadn’t been identified, because they were too close to the suspects’ vehicle before it was blown up, Harn said, adding that the bodies would be removed once the scene was clear.

The security officer who was shot worked for the Garland Independent School District, Harn said. He was treated at a local hospital for injuries and had been released Sunday night.

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