Copenhagen attacks: Police kill gunman during shootout

Monday, February 16, 2015
Image showing cultural centre Krudttønden behind the cordon
[PHOTO: Kim Bach/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0]

Copenhagen: Police in Copenhagen say they have shot and killed a man who opened fire at them near a train station.

A police spokesman said on February 15 that the man is believed to be the gunman who committed two earlier shootings in the city. Authorities are investigating whether anyone else was involved, and the slain man has not been identified.

A statement posted early on February 15 by police said the man was killed after they had put a site near the train station under observation.

No police officers were wounded.

The two earlier shootings left two dead and five police officers wounded, stirring fears that another terror spree was under way in a European capital a month after 17 people were killed in Paris attacks by Islamist extremists.

Client at Krudttønden
[FILE PHOTO: Jacob Munk-Stander/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0]
Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said "Denmark has been hit by terror."

"There is only one answer we can already give today," she continued. "And that is that we will defend our democracy and Denmark."

The first shooting took place on February 14 at a cultural center where controversial cartoonist Lars Vilks -- who had depicted the Prophet Muhammad as a dog in 2007, was participating in a debate on free speech and art.

The second shooting occurred early on February 15 near a synagogue in the city center.

One person who was shot in the head, later died in hospital. Two police officers were shot in the arms and legs.

The gunman fled that attack on foot.

The earlier shooting came a month after extremists killed 12 people at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine, in Paris that had sparked Muslim outrage with its depictions of Muhammad. A French policewoman and four customers at a kosher grocery store were subsequently killed by another terrorist gunman.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the first shooting in the Danish capital.

Police said the gunman used an automatic weapon to shoot through the windows of the Krudttoenden cultural center.

The gunman then fled in a stolen car that was found later a few kilometers away, police said.

A police spokesman said it was possible the gunman had planned the "same scenario" as in the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

French President Francois Hollande called the Copenhagen shooting "deplorable."

European Council President Donald Tusk called the attack "another brutal terrorist attack targeted at our fundamental values and freedoms, including the freedom of expression."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said "the wave of attacks" against Jews in Europe is expected to continue and told Europe's Jews that they were welcome in Israel.

"We are preparing and calling for the absorption of mass immigration from Europe," Netanyahu said. "I would like to tell all European Jews and all Jews wherever they are: 'Israel is the home of every Jew.'"

Vilks has been the target of attacks and death threats since he depicted the Prophet Muhammad as a dog in 2007.

Last year, a woman in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania woman got a 10-year prison term for a plot to kill Vilks.

In 2010, two brothers tried to burn down his house in southern Sweden and were imprisoned for attempted arson.

Vilks told the AP news agency after the Paris terror attacks that, due to increased security concerns, even fewer organizations were inviting him to give lectures.

Vilks also said he was likely the target of the cultural center attack in Copenhagen.

The depiction of the Prophet is deemed insulting to many followers of Islam.

According to mainstream Islamic tradition, any physical depiction of the Prophet Muhammad — even a respectful one — is considered blasphemous.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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