Denmark on high alert with one killed at free speech venue, three wounded after synagogue shooting

Terror in Denmark: One dead, three policemen hurt in apparent assassination attempt on controversial Swedish artist who drew images of Mohammed.

By JPOST.COM STAFF, REUTERS
February 14, 2015 18:14
3 minute read.

A Danish police officer stands guard in Copenhagen. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Denmark's prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, said the country was on high alert after a "terrorist attack" in Copenhagen that police said had been aimed at a controversial Swedish artist.

"We feel certain now that it was a politically motivated attack, and thereby it was a terrorist attack," she told reporters close to the site of the shooting, in which one civilian was killed and three policemen were wounded. "We are on high alert all over the country."

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Police said preliminary interviews with witnesses suggested there had been only one attacker, not two as they had previously stated, and issued a photograph of the suspect.

A civilian was killed and three police were wounded on Saturday in shooting at a meeting in Copenhagen attended by Lars Vilks, an artist who has received death threats since publishing images of Mohammad.

Danish police confirmed one civilian had been killed in the shooting. The suspect had fled in a car after the attack on the gathering, which had been billed as a debate on art and blasphemy.

Danish news agency Ritzau said both Vilks and the French ambassador, who was also attending, were both unharmed, but that three police had been wounded.

Police commander Henrik Blandebjerg initially told local TV there were two assailants. The dead civilian man was 40 years old. Police with searchlights were scouring the area for evidence.



Sweden's security police said Swedish bodyguards were with Vilks at the time of the shooting.

One of those present at the meeting was Inna Shevchenko, a speaker and political activist who tweeted as the dramatic events unfolded.













The French ambassador, Francois Zimeray, posted a dramatic tweet in the immediate aftermath of the attack.



Authorities in southern Sweden said they were helping Danish police. Sweden is joined to Denmark by bridge, and transit across is largely unchecked.

Just over a month ago, 17 people were killed in France in three days of violence that began when two Islamist gunmen burst into the Paris offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, opening fire in revenge for its publication of satirical images of Mohammad.

Vilks stirred controversy in 2007 with published drawings depicting Mohammad as a dog which sparked threats from Islamist militant groups.

He has received numerous death threats and has lived under the constant protection of the Swedish police since 2010. Two years ago, an American woman who called herself Jihad Jane was sentenced to 10 years in prison for plotting to kill him.

The scene of the shooting was a cafe at a cultural center in a central part of Copenhagen.

French President Francois Hollande said Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve would go to the Danish capital as soon as possible.

Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published cartoons by various artists in 2005 depicting Mohammad, provoking protests across the Muslim world in which at least 50 died and death threats against the cartoonists.

Hours later, shots were fired at a synagogue early on Sunday, with one person hit in the head and two police officers wounded. Police said it was too early to connect the two attacks.



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