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Shootings in Copenhagen rock Europe

Shootings in Copenhagen rock Europe

Europe has been left reeling after yet another series of fatal shootings in the region.

An afternoon of debate on art, blasphemy and, ironically, freedom of expression at the Krudttønden cafe in Copenhagen quickly turned to panic on Saturday after a masked gunman opened fire, riddling the windows with bullets.

The target for the initial shooting was believed to be the guest speaker at the debate, Lars Vilks, a Swedish artist who depicted the prophet Muhammad as a dog in a 2007 cartoon, and who has received death threats ever since as a result.

According to news reports, Inna Shevchenko, a leader of the Ukrainian protest group Femen, was talking to an audience of about 30 people on the danger of gunmen and shootings suppressing free speech when the bullets started flying.

Multiple rounds were fired and resulted in the death of 55-year-old Finn Nørgaard, a respected film director who had attended the free speech seminar. France’s ambassador to Denmark, François Zimeray, was also among the guests at the afternoon seminar. There were a dozen guards, including both uniformed and plainclothes police officers present and bags had been searched and checked prior to the event.

Three police officers were wounded at the scene, but Vilks remain unharmed as his guards pushed him into a catering store room for safety. A manhunt ensued thereafter with police using the surveillance footage to try and track down the killer.

Copenhagen police subsequently increased security at the city’s main synagogue in the Krystalgade area, where 80 people were due to celebrate a bat mitzvah. At 12.45am the gunman reappeared and approached the group and started shooting. An officer was shot in the leg and another in the arm but they remain in a stable condition. Dan Uzan, a 37-year-old who was a guard at the bat mitzvah was killed.

The second shooting and subsequent death increased pressure on police to apprehend the gunman. Shortly before 5 am on Sunday morning they shot dead a 22-year-old Danish-born citizen.

It is believed his actions were possibly inspired by a similar attack on the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, authorities said.

Danish spy chief Jens Madsen told the media that the gunman was known to intelligence services prior to the shooting and had most likely acted alone. Police confirmed the gunman had a record of violence, gang-related activities and weapons possession.

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