Danish police announced that the man they shot and killed near a train station in Copenhagen early Sunday was likely the suspect behind two shooting attacks in the capital.
The first attack occurred around 4 pm Saturday at a free speech discussion following a series of terror attacks in Paris. Police said the gunman, armed with an automatic weapon, opened fire on the Krudttoenden Center where a panel discussion was being held.
A 55-year-old man was killed and three police officers wounded. Two of the officers belonged to the PET Danish security service. PET said that considering the circumstances around the shooting, they believe “that we are talking about a terror attack.”
Lark Vilks, a Swedish artist who has received numerous death threats for caricaturing the Prophet Muhammad, was one of the featured guest speakers at the event, titled “Art, blasphemy and freedom of expression.”
Vilks, who was evacuated during the shootings by his bodyguards, later told the Associated Press that he believes he was the intended target.
The gunman fled the scene in a stolen Volkswagon Polo, which was later recovered by police several kilometers away. Hours later, after midnight on Sunday, the gunman opened fire at two police officers standing guard outside a synagogue in downtown Copenhagen.
The two police officers were shot in the arms and legs and a civilian nearby, who is believed to be a member of the Jewish community, was killed. A police spokesman said they believe the gunman planned the “same scenario” as the attacks on Charlie Hebdo headquarters in Paris last month.
Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said the attack on the Krudttoenden was a “political attack and therefore an act of terror.”
Denmark’s ambassador to Israel, Jesper Vahr, told Army Radio that the deadly shooting outside the Copenhagen synagogue is “totally unacceptable.” He added that the attack against the Danish Jewish community constitutes a breach in the long-standing good relations between Denmark and its Jews.
“This [shooting] is very un-Danish, this is not the sense of security which is normally part and parcel of our society,” Vahr said. “Our safety and security issues go above anything else. We take security around synagogues very seriously.”
The twin shooting attacks were “clearly acts of terrorism,” Rabbi Yitzchak Lowenthal, a representative of the Chabad movement in Copenhagen, told Israel Radio on Sunday.
Lowenthal explained that members of the Danish Jewish community were living in fear for their lives and have taken refuge in their homes.
In response to the attacks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his solidarity with Jews in Denmark and issued a stark warning for Jews in Europe at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.
“Extremist Islamic terrorism has struck Europe again, this time in Denmark. We send our condolences to the Danish people and to the Jewish community in Denmark. Jews have been murdered again on European soil only because they were Jews and this wave of terrorist attacks – including murderous anti-Semitic attacks – is expected to continue,” he stated Sunday.
“Of course, Jews deserve protection in every country but we say to Jews, to our brothers and sisters: Israel is your home. We are preparing and calling for the absorption of mass immigration from Europe. I would like to tell all European Jews and all Jews wherever they are: ‘Israel is the home of every Jew.'”
The prime minister announced additional funding of NIS 180 million by the government to help “encourage the absorption of immigrants from France, Belgium and Ukraine.”
“To the Jews of Europe and to the Jews of the world I say that Israel is waiting for you with open arms.”