COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – A civilian was killed and three police wounded yesterday when a masked gunman sprayed bullets at a Copenhagen venue holding a meeting attended by a Swedish artist threatened with death for his cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.
Danish police said the suspect shooter escaped in a getaway car. Hours later, shots were fired at a synagogue early today, with one person hit in the head and two police officers wounded. Police said it was too early to connect the two attacks.
Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said Denmark was on high alert after a “terrorist attack” police said was aimed at artist Lars Vilks, who stirred controversy in 2007 with published drawings depicting the Prophet Mohammad as a dog.
The attacker escaped in a car that was found later in the outskirts of Copenhagen. Police could not yet describe the precise condition of the person shot in the head or the police officers who were hurt in synagogue attack.
The cafe complex was hosting a cultural event called “Art, Blasphemy and Freedom of Expression.” French ambassador to Denmark Francois Zimeray, who was attending the event, likened the shooting to the attack on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris by Islamist militants that killed 12 people last month.
“We feel certain now that it was a politically motivated attack, and thereby it was a terrorist attack,” Thorning-Schmidt told journalists close to the site of the attack.
European Council President Donald Tusk called the attack “another brutal terrorist attack targeted at our fundamental values and freedoms, including the freedom of expression.”
Witnesses said one or more gunmen had tried to shoot their way into the venue before guards returned fire. Vilks, the event’s main speaker, and Zimeray were unharmed.
“I heard someone firing with automatic weapons and someone shouting. Police returned the fire and I hid behind the bar. It felt surreal, like in a movie,” Niels Ivar Larsen told Danish TV2.