Denmark shooting: 1 dead, 3 police hurt in shooting at Copenhagen Islam debate

By: | Published: February 15, 2015 9:53 AM

Unidentified gunmen killed at least one person and wounded three police officers after opening fire today on a cultural centre in Copenhagen hosting a debate on Islam and free speech.

denmark shooting, denmark news, copenhagen shooting, copenhagen news, Copenhagen Islam debate, free speech, Charlie HebdoForensic investigators are seen at the site of a shooting in Copenhagen February 14, 2015. A civilian was killed and three police were wounded on Saturday in a shooting at a meeting in Copenhagen attended by Lars Vilks, an artist who has received death threats since publishing images of the Prophet Mohammad. (Reuters)

Unidentified gunmen killed at least one person and wounded three police officers after opening fire today on a cultural centre in Copenhagen hosting a debate on Islam and free speech.

Swedish artist Lars Vilks – the author of controversial Prophet Mohammed cartoons that sparked worldwide protests in 2007 – was among those at the debate targeted by two gunmen who then fled the scene.

Danish Prime Minister Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt described the assault as “a terrorist attack” as Danish televion showed the windows of the Krudttonden cultural centre pock marked by multiple bullet holes.

French ambassador to Denmark Francois Zimeray, who had been present at the debate but was not hurt, told AFP the shooting was an attempt to replicate the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris.

denmark shooting, denmark news, copenhagen shooting, copenhagen news, free speech, Charlie HebdoPolicemen are seen along a street in central Copenhagen, early February 15, 2015 following shootings at a synagogue in Krystalgade. One person was shot in the head and two police were wounded in an attack on the synagogue in central Copenhagen, Danish police said, adding that it was too early to say whether the incident was connected to an earlier one at an arts cafe. (Reuters)

“They shot from the outside (and) had the same intention as Charlie Hebdo, only they didn’t manage to get in,” he said by telephone from the venue.

“Intuitively I would say there were at least 50 gunshots, and the police here are saying 200,” he told AFP.

“Bullets went through the doors and everyone threw themselves to the floor.”

A statement by Danish police said “an unidentified man died after having been hit by bullets” in the strike, and three officers were wounded in the shooting.

Police also said the Volkswagen Polo the two suspected assailants fled the scene in was found abandoned around two hours after the attack.

Specialists commenting on the attack in initial media reports said it was likely automatic rifles were used in the strike in order to fire as many rounds in a short period of time.

The assault comes at a time of heightened security and rising fears of Islamist attacks, following January 7 and 9 incidents in Paris that left 17 people dead.

A series of anti-terror sweeps have been carried out across Europe since mid-January, resulting in the arrests of dozens of suspected jihadist and seizures of large stocks of weapons and explosives.

Charlie Hebdo raised the ire of Islamist extremists by republishing cartoons by Vilks and other caricatures, and periodically satirising Islam on its own in later editions.

paris attack, paris news, paris shooting, charlie hebdoPeople queue for the new issue of satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo entitled “Tout est pardonne” (“All is forgiven”), which shows a caricature of Prophet Mohammad, at a kiosk in Nice January 14, 2015. (Reuters)

Vilks has been under police protection since his earlier controversial cartoons were published.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius condemned what he called a “terrorist attack targeting a public meeting”, saying in a statement that France “remains by the side of the Danish authorities and people in the fight against terrorism.”

The French president’s office said Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve was headed to the scene.

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