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Copenhagen Police Kill Man After Deadly Shootings

  • RFE/RL

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve (center) lays flowers outside the Krystalgade synagogue in Copenhagen on February 15 after two attacks in the Danish capital, at a cultural center during a debate on Islam and free speech and a second outside a synagogue left two people dead.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve (center) lays flowers outside the Krystalgade synagogue in Copenhagen on February 15 after two attacks in the Danish capital, at a cultural center during a debate on Islam and free speech and a second outside a synagogue left two people dead.

Police in Copenhagen say they have shot and killed a man suspected of carrying out shooting attacks at a free-speech event and then at a Copenhagen synagogue, killing two men, including a member of Denmark's Jewish community.Five police officers were also wounded in the attacks.

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

Jens Madsen, head of the Danish intelligence agency PET, told reporters that investigators have identified the suspect and that he is someone who had been on the agency's "radar."

Madsen did not reveal his identity. He said investigators believe the gunman may have been inspired by Islamic radicalism.

"PET is working on a theory that the perpetrator could have been inspired by the events in Paris. He could also have been inspired by material sent out by [the Islamic State group] and others," Madsen said.

Authorities are investigating whether anyone else was involved.

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.

With reporting by AP, dpa, AFP and Reuters
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