Copenhagen Cafe Hosting Freedom Of Speech Event Atacked

COPENHAGEN — Shots were fired today (Feb 14) at a cafe in Copenhagen as it hosted a freedom of speech event organised by Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who has faced numerous threats for caricaturing the Prophet Muhammad. Danish police said one man was killed.

In a statement, Danish police said they are looking for the perpetrators who drove away in a dark Volkswagen Polo after the shooting shortly before 4 pm (11pm, Singapore time) at the Krudttoenden cafe.

The police said the victim was a 40-year-old man.

Some 30 bullet holes ripped through the window of the Krudttoenden cafe and at least two people were taken away on stretchers, including a uniformed police officer, the TV2 channel said.

“I heard someone firing with an automatic weapons and someone shouting. Police returned the fire and I hid behind the bar. I felt surreal, like in a movie,” Mr Niels Ivar Larsen, one of the speakers at the event, told the TV2 channel.

Ms Helle Merete Brix, one of the organisers of the event, told The Associated Press that Mr Vilks was present at the event but not injured.

“I saw a masked man running past,” she said. “A couple of police officers were injured.”

“I clearly consider this as an attack on Lars Vilks,” she added, saying she was ushered away with Mr Vilks by one of the Danish police guards that he gets whenever he is in Denmark.

The cafe in northern Copenhagen, known for its jazz concerts, was hosting an event titled Art, blasphemy and the freedom of expression, when the shots were fired.

Mr François Zimeray, the French ambassador to Denmark, was at the conference and tweeted that he was “still alive.”

The BBC news also said three police officers have reportedly been shot and wounded there, and two gunmen are reportedly still at large. They also said the area around the venue is under lockdown.

Mr Vilks, a 68-year-old Swedish artist, has faced several attempted attacks and death threats after he depicted the Prophet Muhammad as a dog in 2007.

A Pennsylvania woman last year got a 10-year prison term for a plot to kill Vilks. In 2010 two brothers tried to burn down his house in southern Sweden and were imprisoned for attempted arson.

After Islamic militants attacked the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in Paris last month, killing 12 people, Mr Vilks told the AP that even fewer organisations were inviting him to give lectures over increased security concerns.

He also said he thought Sweden’s SAPO security service, which deploys bodyguards to protect him, would step up the security around him.

“This will create fear among people on a whole different level than we’re used to,” he said. “Charlie Hebdo was a small oasis. Not many dared do what they did.”



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