2 Gunmen Dead outside Texas Cartoon Contest Event

2 Gunmen Dead outside Texas Cartoon Contest Event2 Gunmen Dead outside Texas Cartoon Contest Event

Two gunmen were shot dead after opening fire outside a provocative conference on cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a suburb of Dallas, Texas, US police said. They drove to the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland as the event was ending, and began shooting at a security officer before being shot and killed by police.

The bomb squad was called in to search their vehicle for explosives. The event, organized by an anti-Islam group, included a contest for drawings of the Prophet, BBC said in a report.

Sunday’s event was organized by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), which is run by controversial blogger and activist Pamela Geller and is listed as an anti-Muslim group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights group.

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

In a text message to Dutch media, Geert Wilders said Sunday’s incident had been an “unacceptable” attack on freedom of expression. However, the 51 year-old has been condemned of expressing bigoted, offensive anti-Muslim views.

The conference included a contest that offered a $10,000 prize for a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad.

Garland Police Department spokesman Joe Harn said there had been no credible threats in advance, and it was not immediately clear if the shootings were related to the event.

However, a report by DailyMail said the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack. The report said Abu Hussain al-Britani, an IS militant, claimed in a series of tweets and links that the shooting was carried out by two pro-IS individuals.

About 200 people had been attending the “Muhammad Art Exhibit” when, shortly before it was due to finish at 7 p.m. local time, they were told of a shooting outside.

A security officer was taken to hospital after being shot in the ankle, but was later released.

Garland Mayor Douglas Athas said, “The first suspect was shot immediately, and the second was wounded and reached for his backpack. He was shot again.”

Local police said they had not been able to identify the gunmen. Joe Harn, a spokesman for the Garland Police Department, warned that the inspection is “a very slow, tedious operation that goes on.”