Danish police consider hotel blast as possible terror attack; suspect proclaims innocence

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Danish officials said this week's small explosion at a Copenhagen hotel could be terror related, as the French-speaking suspect proclaimed his innocence in court Saturday while being ordered held in custody.

The blast on Friday — a day before the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States — caused only minor damage to a hotel bathroom and prompted Danish authorities to "slightly" raise the country's terror alert. But officials insisted Danes should not be afraid of an imminent attack.

No one was hurt except for the suspect, who was slightly wounded.

The suspect was arrested Friday in a central Copenhagen park after being seen running from the blast site. Officers used a remote-controlled robot to detach a pack from his waist, fearing it could contain explosives. Police said a gun and two loaded magazines were found at the hotel.

The suspect's identity has not been fully established, but police described him as being in his 40s. They said he was refusing to cooperate with authorities.

Speaking through a translator at Saturday's custody hearing, the man said he couldn't remember his name or age. He used crutches, with part of his right leg missing, and Danish media said he was believed to have a prosthetic leg.

The man also denied preliminary charges of intending to harm others by an explosion and firearms possession. Preliminary charges are a step short of formal charges, but if they are formally filed and he is convicted, he could face up to life in prison.

The man was ordered held until Oct. 4.

It was not clear if the explosion was terror related, but "there are circumstances that point in the direction of a failed terror attack," intelligence service chief Jakob Scharf said.

Scharf said his agency "cannot exclude that there could be other suspects at large."

Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen called it "a serious case" that has the police's "highest priority," adding that the government was monitoring developments closely.

Former operative head of the PET intelligence service, Hans Joergen Bonnichsen, said the case was plagued by "uncertainty."

"The authorities prefer to be better safe than sorry. It can be anything between terror and a mentally unstable man," said Bonnichsen, who retired in 2006.

Police operations chief Joern Aabye said the "slightly raised" terror alert means authorities will be more on their guard throughout the country, for example, at Copenhagen airport security checkpoints. But he added that there was little risk of an imminent attack.

Police were trying to establish what kind of explosives caused the blast. Aabye said no other explosives were found at the hotel, but that a search was continuing.