Denmark says explosion at tax agency clearly a deliberate act

Danish police are investigating an explosion that ripped through the country’s national tax agency late on Tuesday, in what authorities are characterizing as a deliberate act.

Tax Minister Morten Bodskov told Ritzau that it’s “pretty clear” someone is behind the explosion, while Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen called the attack a “serious crime.” Police said one person was slightly injured.

Images of the building, which is in the east of the capital Copenhagen, show the front was largely destroyed, with windows shattered. The injured person was a passer-by, who was hit by flying debris, police said.

General view of damage to the entrance at the front of the Danish Tax Authority at Oesterbro in Copenhagen, Denmark, on August 7, 2019, after a powerful explosion near Nordhavn Station, late on August 6.
General view of damage to the entrance at the front of the Danish Tax Authority at Oesterbro in Copenhagen, Denmark, on August 7, 2019, after a powerful explosion near Nordhavn Station, late on August 6. (Photo by Olafur STEINAR GESTSSON / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP) / Denmark OUT (Photo credit should read OLAFUR STEINAR GESTSSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Chief inspector Jorgen Bergen Skov said police were treating the episode as a criminal act. Frederiksen said it was too early to talk of possible terrorism.

“It’s a miracle that no one was seriously injured” despite the “very violent explosion," Frederiksen said at a press conference in Copenhagen.

Danish taxes

The attack targeted a key piece of infrastructure in a country that has one of the rich world’s heaviest tax burdens. Tax revenue made up 45 percent of Danish gross domestic product in 2018, marking one of the highest levels in the OECD. The money is used to pay for state services that include free healthcare and education. Most polls show Danes, who regularly top world happiness rankings, are content to pay toward their prized welfare system.

In elections in June, a center-right coalition that had sought to reduce taxes lost to a left-leaning group of parties that pledged more public spending.

Bodskov called the attack “insane,” according to Berlingske. “The staff at the tax agency fight hard to make sure that our welfare system works, and they make sure that we all contribute what we owe to keep everything in balance.” He’s encouraging any witnesses to come forward, saying police need all the help they can get to investigate the matter.

“This is not merely a prank,” Bodskov said, speaking to state broadcaster DR outside of the building. “It’s a very, very violent explosion. Someone is behind this.”

Police ruled out any connection between Tuesday’s attack and an explosion that took place at the same tax agency’s offices on Aug. 6, 2003, broadcaster TV2 said.