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copenhagen shootings


The gunman believed to have attacked a free-speech debate and a Copenhagen synagogue was 22, born in Denmark and known to them because of past violence, police say.

The presumed gunman was shot and killed early on Sunday morning by police who were monitoring an address in the Norrebro district of the city.

The man’s name has not been confirmed.

A film director and a synagogue guard were killed in separate attacks. Five police officers were also injured.

Police believe the gunman was acting alone.

He was known to them in connection with criminal gangs and had convictions for violent offences and dealing in weapons.

“It was the case that when the suspect was shot and killed during police action, he was armed with pistols,” police commissioner Thorkild Fogde told a news conference.

Danish media have widely named him as Omar El-Hussein, but police did not release the suspect’s identity.

The attacks began on Saturday, February 14, when the gunman fired shots at a cafe hosting a seminar on free speech. It was attended by cartoonist Lars Vilks, who has faced death threats over his caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

The gunman opened fire again in the early hours of Sunday outside a synagogue in Copenhagen.

The Danish intelligence service is investigating whether the gunman was copying the shootings in Paris last month, when 17 people were killed in attacks on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and HyperCacher kosher supermarket.

Earlier, the head of the intelligence service told reporters the man had been known to them, and police were working to determine whether he had travelled to Syria or Iraq.

PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt described the shootings as “a cynical act of terror against Denmark” and said her government would not compromise on its defense of free expression.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt later visited the synagogue and said Denmark would do everything to protect its Jewish community.

Denmark prides itself on being one of the few European countries to have saved most of its Jewish population from the Nazi Holocaust in the 1940s.

“When you mercilessly fire deadly bullets at innocent people taking part in a debate, when you attack the Jewish community, you attack our democracy,” Helle Thorning-Schmidt said on a visit to the synagogue on February 15.

“We will do everything possible to protect our Jewish community.”

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has urged Danish Jews to emigrate to Israel. Denmark’s Chief Rabbi Jair Melchior said he was “disappointed” by Benjamin Netanyahu’s stance, the AP reported.

“If the way we deal with terror is to run somewhere else, we should all run to a deserted island,” said Jair Melchior, according to AP.

There has been widespread international condemnation. The US State Department tweeted: “We stand with the people of Denmark and all who defend the universal right of freedom of speech and stand against anti-Semitism and bigotry.”

Patrick Pelloux, a Charlie Hebdo columnist, said: “We are all Danish tonight.”

A gunman who was behind two deadly attacks in Danish capital Copenhagen has been shot dead, police say.

Copenhagen police say they killed the man in the Norrebro district after he opened fire on them.

It came after one person was killed and three police officers injured at a free speech debate in a cafe on February 14.

In the second attack, a Jewish man was killed and two police officers wounded near Copenhagen’s main synagogue.

Police say video surveillance suggested the same man carried out both attacks. They do not believe any other people were involved.

“We assume that it’s the same culprit behind both incidents, and we also assume that the culprit that was shot by the police task force… is the person behind both of these assassinations,” Chief Police Inspector Torben Molgaard Jensen told a news conference.

He said police would maintain a high presence in the city.

Early on Sunday, police said they had been keeping an address under observation in the district of Norrebro, waiting for the occupant to return.

When he appeared, he noticed the officers, pulled out a gun and opened fire, police said. They returned fire and shot him dead. The incident happened near Norrebro train station.

Norrebro is a predominantly immigrant district of Copenhagen, about 3 miles away from the synagogue where the shooting took place just hours earlier.

Police earlier warned residents that it was not safe to be in the city centre, although they stressed that there was no curfew in force.

A massive manhunt was launched after the first shooting, which took place during a free speech debate attended by Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks.

Officials said the gunman made his getaway by car, and a black Volkswagen Polo was later found abandoned a short distance from the scene, police said.

Police released photographs showing the alleged attacker apparently wearing a purple balaclava and thick puffer jacket.

Hours later, a gunman opened fire outside a synagogue in Krystalgade street, about 3 miles from the scene of the first attack.

A Jewish man was fatally shot in the head and two police officers suffered injuries to their arms and legs. The attacker fled.

A Jewish community group later said that the man killed had been on security duty while a confirmation ceremony was taking place inside the synagogue.

PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt had described the first attack as a “politically motivated” act of terrorism.

Cartoonist Lars Vilks, who has faced death threats over his caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, said he believed he was the intended target of the first attack. He was unhurt.

The French ambassador, Francois Zimeray, was also present during the attack

A description of the debate at the cafe asked whether artists could “dare” to be blasphemous in the wake of attacks by Islamist gunmen in Paris last month against satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

In the French attacks, two gunmen opened fire at Charlie Hebdo‘s office, shooting dead 12 people. The next day a suspected accomplice of the militants shot dead a policewoman and later took hostages at a Jewish shop, killing four of them.