Members of a Danish biker gang are being hunted after a former member was blown up in his car when he drove to a hospital appointment in a Copenhagen suburb.
The car bomb shattered the country's reputation as a haven of tranquillity and raised fears that a bloody war between Nordic motorcycle gangs had been revived after a long lull.
Mickey Borgfjord Larsen, the victim, formerly a member of the notorious Bandidos motorcycle gang, was killed after a bomb was slipped under his car and exploded in the car park of the hospital about nine miles west of the capital, in the suburb of Glostrup.
Joergen Bro, Copenhagen's Chief Constable, said the explosion at 9am destroyed the car and hurled pieces of wreckage up top 200 metres around the blast area.
"The driver of the car was killed immediately by a massive explosion," Mr Bro said. "It was a very violent explosion. Several kilograms of explosive were used." The victim was reportedly being hunted by other members of the Bandidos gang because he left the group.
Mr Borgfjord Larsen, a convicted kidnapper, had driven to the hospital for weekly physical therapy from a nearby halfway house where he was finishing an eight-year sentence for kidnapping, violence, threats and the theft of six million cigarettes.
Danish police quickly ruled out terrorism after a doctor who knew the 32-year-old man identified Larsen's remains. They also played down suggestions of a resurgence in the biker wars that once plagued the country, suggesting the bomb was a settling of accounts.
For three years, a murderous war raged between the Hells Angels and Bandidos motorcycle gangs, leaving up to 12 dead. In a region not known for violent criminality the gangs used car bombs, anti-tank grenades and drive-by shootings to settle scores. At the peak of the biker war, one of the gangs fired a rocket-propelled grenade into a dance being held by a breakaway gang in central Copenhagen. In 1997, the two groups signed a truce, ending the so-called "biker war" in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland.
"We quickly knew it was related to the biker world so we decided not to evacuate the whole hospital," Mr Bro told a news conference. "We knew that the bomb was targeting him." Larsen had been in "bad standing" with the Bandidos for leaving the group in 2001, he added. "That means that he is hunted game for people in biker circles. He was very unpopular and had many enemies."
No arrests had been made and there were no suspects, he told the conference.
The Danish Prison and Probation Service, which authorised Larsen to go to the hospital unaccompanied, had no immediate comment.
Detective Inspector Steen Skovgaard said: "He was threatened but we had no recent indication that people wanted to get rid of him, which is why he was not accompanied by police officers."
Although yesterday's car bomb came as a jolt to the country, it follows another explosion last week, which blasted the country's national icon, the Little Mermaid, off her foundations into Copenhagen harbour. For 90 years, the statue has looked out at the Baltic Sea from atop a rock. Copenhagen police have made some arrests during their investigation into the blast. The damage to the country's top tourist attraction is estimated at £12,000. Police investigating yesterday's killing are questioning insiders with knowledge of the biker gangs.