Europe shocked by Copenhagen terror attack
By Lisbeth Kirk
Copenhagen police shot and killed on Sunday morning (15 February) a man suspected to have carried out two terror attacks in the Danish capital over the weekend.
”Once again Europe is shocked by what appears to be another brutal terrorist attack targeted at our fundamental values and freedoms, including the freedom of expression”, said European Council President Donald Tusk.
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Similar to the Charlie Hebdo terror in Paris on 7 January, freedom of expression was the first target in Copenhagen followed by an attack on the Jewish community.
The first attack happened on Saturday afternoon, when a man fired some 40 shots at the culture centre ’Krudttønden’ where an international debate about freedom of expression had just started.
Some 50 people had turned up for the public debate between Swedish Muhammad cartoonist and art historian Lars Vilks, leader of the Ukrainian feminist group FEMEN, Inna Shevchenko, and Polish artist Agnieszka Kolek. The French ambassador was also present.
One civilian was killed in the attack and three police officers present at the meeting were wounded.
The attacker fled in a stolen car, which was found soon after in the neighbourhood. Video surveillance showed he had taken a taxi further on.
He has been identified as 22-year-old Omar Abdel Hamid el-Hussein, born in Copenhagen to Palestinian parents. The Danish-Palestinian man was known to the police for gang-related crimes, but had not been abroad as a foreign fighter.
He was released from jail just a few weeks earlier and one possibility is that he was radicalised while in the prison.
Shortly after midnight he carried out a second attack against the main synagogue of the Jewish community in Copenhagen, where some 80 people were attending a family event.
One young Jewish doorman was shot and later died, while two police officers were wounded before the attacker fled.
Again, police presence at the place most likely prevented an even larger tragedy.
Video surveillance led the police to identify the man, suspected to have carried out both shootings. When confronted by police in the early morning hours, he fired at police and was killed, while two police officers were wounded.
"It's a very sad morning when we all think of the victims and their relatives. Two innocent people have lost their lives as a result of a cynical act of terror against Denmark”, prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said in a statement.
Policed used social media to keep the public informed as events unfolded. Thorning-Schmidt praised the security forces for having acted quickly.
”No one should get away with attacking the open, free and democratic Danish society," she said.