news Monday, May 04, 2015 - 05:30

Washington: Two gunmen were shot dead after they opened fire outside a conference on cartoons of Prophet Muhammad in Texas state, an incident for which the Islamic State (IS) has allegedly claimed responsibility.

The shooting took place at the Culwell Event Center in Garland city on Sunday evening, authorities said.

Garland's city government issued a statement that the Muhammad Art Exhibit event was coming to a close when "two males drove up to the front of the building in a car and started shooting at a security officer", USA Today reported.

"Garland police officers engaged the gunmen, who were both shot and killed," the statement said.

The security officer, a Garland Independent School District employee, was identified as Bruce Joiner. He was shot in the lower leg and suffered non-life-threatening injuries, according to a spokesman for Garland police.

Authorities could ot confirm immediately if the shooting was directly related to the conference, which was organised by the New York-based American Freedom Defence Initiative.

Around 200 people attended the event, most of them from out of Texas.

Meanwhile, Italian news agency AKI, citing US terrorism tracking group SITE, reported from Rome that a purported fighter from the IS militant group has claimed responsibility for the Texas shooting incident.

The shooting outside the "Draw Muhammad" event in Garland was carried out by two pro-IS individuals, the alleged IS fighter claimed on Twitter, SITE said on its website.

"Two of our brothers opened fire against the Prophet Mohammed exhibition in Texas," Abu Hussain AlBritani, a battle name for British jihadi Junaid Hussein, said in a tweet, according to SITE.

Security had been high around the centre because of the controversial nature of the event, which included Dutch anti-Islamic politician Geert Wilders as one of the keynote speakers.

Depictions of Prophet Muhammad are offensive to many Muslims, and have sparked a number of deadly attacks by Islamists in recent years.

In January, 12 people were murdered by two Islamist gunmen at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which had published cartoons on the Prophet.

The following month, a gathering of free speech activists in the Danish capital Copenhagen was targeted by a gunman, killing a film director.

In 2006, Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published cartoons satirising Prophet Muhammad, triggering riots around the world in which at least 200 people are believed to have died, as well as attacks on several Western embassies.

With IANS

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