‘Not a war between Islam and West,’ says PM as Denmark reels
Danish-born suspect (22) shot dead after two people killed in separate terror shootings
Danish prime minister Helle Thorning Schmidt arrives at the synagogue in Krystalgade in Copenhagen to show her sympathy. Photograph: Simon Laessoee/Scanpix/Reuters
Queen Margrethe of Denmark has called on Danes to defend together their shared values after police yesterday shot dead a 22-year-old Danish-born man suspected of two fatal shootings hours earlier in Copenhagen.
Local media named the Danish-born suspect as Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, reporting that he had been released from prison a few weeks ago after serving a sentence for knife crime. Police did not confirm the name.
After a frantic manhunt, prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said Denmark had “tasted the ugly taste of fear” when two civilians were killed in suspected copycat Charlie Hebdo attacks – at a synagogue and, hours earlier, at a cafe during a discussion on free speech.
Five police officers were injured during the attacks and the unprecedented manhunt, which ended early yesterday morning with the fatal shooting of the chief suspect. He opened fire after arriving at an apartment block in Copenhagen’s Nørrebro neighbourhood that was being watched by police officers, who then shot him.
Danish investigators say there is no indication more than one person was involved, but yesterday afternoon they raided an internet cafe. Local television showed police leading away two men. “We cannot yet say anything concrete about the motive . . . but are considering that he might have been inspired by the events in Paris some weeks ago,” said Jens Madsen, Denmark’s intelligence chief, at a news conference.
He said the dead man had been “on the radar” of Danish investigators for some time but to their knowledge had received no training in jihadist camps in the Middle East.
The Copenhagen attacks began at about 3.30pm on Saturday afternoon at the Krudttønden cafe, where a discussion had just begun on the topic “Art, Blasphemy and Freedom of Expression”.
Eyewitnesses say the gunman, wearing a dark winter coat and purple hat and balaclava, shot at least 40 rounds through the cafe door and window. A member of the audience, 55-year-old film director Finn Nørgaard, was shot after reportedly going outside the cafe during the attack.
Yesterday, Mr Vilks said he was unharmed and unaffected by the attack, “but the audience . . . got to experience fear and horror and tragedy”. The cartoonist said he had little doubt the gunman was inspired by the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper and a kosher supermarket in Paris that left 17 people dead last month.
About 10 hours later, 5km away from the cafe, he struck again, targeting a synagogue in the Krystalgade neighbourhood, behind which a bat mitzvah celebration was taking place. The gunman killed a 37-year-old man standing guard, named locally as Dan Uzan, and injured two police officers. Eyewitnesses said the gunman fled in a car, and police found an abandoned Volkswagen Polo nearby. He then called a taxi to take him home and police traced him using information from the driver.
Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, laying flowers yesterday at the synagogue, described the attacks as a “cynical act of terror” that had given Denmark “some hours which we will never forget”.
Freedom of speech
Queen Margrethe said: “It is important that we stand together in such a serious situation and guard the values on which Denmark is founded.”
Leaders across Europe promised the Danish government support in tackling terrorism.