Manhunt under way after Copenhagen shootings; PM calls it a terrorist attack

French President Hollande said Interior Minister would go to the Danish capital later on Sunday.

By: Reuters | Copenhagen | Updated: February 15, 2015 11:12:13 am
Denmark shooting, copenhagen firing, Hollande In this photo dated Saturday Feb. 14, 2015, issued by Copenhagen Police believed to show the suspect in a shooting at a freedom of speech event in Copenhagen, in a photo believed to be taken on a street camera near to where the getaway car was later found dumped. (Source: AP)

Denmark was on high alert and a massive manhunt was under way on Sunday after a man sprayed bullets at a Copenhagen cafe hosting a debate on freedom of speech and blasphemy, killing one person and wounding three police officers.

The meeting attacked on Saturday was attended by Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who has been threatened with death for his cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.

Also read: US condemns Denmark shooting, calls it ‘deplorable’

The French ambassador, who was also there, compared the shooting to the deadly January attack on a satirical newspaper in Paris by Islamist militants.

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Hours after the cafe attack, shots were fired at a Cophenhagen synagogue. Two police officers were wounded by gunfire and a civilian was shot multiple times in the head. Police and said it was too early to connect that incident with the arts cafe shooting.

Authorities could not give details on the civilian’s condition but said the police officers’ wounds were not considered life-threatening. One officer was wounded in the leg and the other in the arm.

Also read: Denmark on edge as 2nd shooting within hours rocks capital

“We feel certain now that it was a politically motivated attack, and thereby it was a terrorist attack,” Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt told journalists, speaking on Saturday close to the site of the first incident.

Helicopters circled around the Danish capital late into the night and throngs of armed police, some in armored vehicles,  hunted for the suspect or suspects in the shootings.

The police presence was particular heavy near the sites of the shootings, both in relatively central Cophenhagen.

Also read: One dead in Copenhagen cafe shooting in ‘likely’ terror attack

The attacks mirrored those of Jan. 17 in Paris, when brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi burst into the office of newspaper Charlie Hebdo and opened fire in revenge for its satirical images of the Prophet Mohammad, beginning three days of violence that killed 17.

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

Denmark itself became a target after the publication 10 years ago of cartoons lampooning the Prophet Mohammad, images which led to sometimes fatal protests in the Muslim world.

Vilks stirred controversy himself in 2007 with published drawings depicting Mohammad as a dog, triggering threats.

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

French President Francois Hollande said Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve would go to the Danish capital later on Sunday.

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