COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Police have shot and killed a man believed to have carried out dual acts of terror in Denmark on Saturday that left four wounded and two dead.
The first incident occurred at the Krudttoenden cafe in Osterbro during an event entitled “Art, Blasphemy and Freedom of Expression.” The discussion featured Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, France’s ambassador to Denmark Francois Zimeray and Femen activist Inna Shevchenko, and included talk about Islam and the French publication Charlie Hebdo.
According to reports, Vilks has faced death threats in the past for his controversial caricatures, including a display that depicted the Islamic prophet Mohammad as a dog. While the motive of Saturday’s shooting has not been determined, some suspect that it may have been an attempt to assassinate Vilks.
But Vilks was not injured in the incident as some of those present, including Zimeray, hit the floor at the sound of the gunshots and crawled toward a back door emergency exit.
“Intuitively I would say there were at least 50 gunshots, [but] the police here are saying 200,” Zimeray told reporters. “Bullets went through the doors and everyone threw themselves to the floor.”
However, one unidentified 40-year-old man died in the shooting and two police officers were injured.
“Denmark has today been hit by a cynical act of violence,” Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt stated following the incident. “Everything suggests that the shooting in Osterbro was a political assassination and thus an act of terrorism.”
Hours after the shooting at the cafe, reports broke that a second shooting took place in the Krystalgade area near a Jewish synagogue, injuring two police officers and killing a male civilian. The fatality is believed to be that of the synagogue guard, who was shot in the head. The gunman then fled on foot.
But police stated that they have had their eye on the man, whose name has not yet been made public, for some time. Several hours following the second attack, they located the suspect near a train station in Norrebro. After he drew a gun on police, he was shot dead.
“We assume that it’s the same culprit behind both incidents … that was shot by the police,” Chief police inspector Torben Molgaard Jensen told reporters on Sunday.
The incidents occur just a month after the massacre at the office of the atheist-run French newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which took the lives of 12 people. The location has been the center of controversy in recent years due to its cartoons mocking Mohammad, which raised the ire of Islamists. Editor Stephane Charbonier, who died in the attack, had been receiving police protection after facing death threats from Muslims over his controversial cartoons.
Gunmen Said and Cherif Kouachi, who carried out the attack shortly after the new year, were captured on video yelling, “Allahu Akbar”—meaning “Allah is the greatest”—following the massacre, as well as “The prophet has been avenged.” They both died in a standoff with police at a printing plant days later.
While Obama was on the golf range in Palm Springs, Ca. during Saturday’s first attack, National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan released a statement condemning the violence.
“We offer our condolences to the loved ones of the deceased victim, and our thoughts are with those wounded in this attack,” she said. “We have been in close contact with our Danish counterparts and stand ready to lend any assistance necessary to the investigation.”