Friday 22 September 2017

'I was the target of Copenhagen gunman' - Cartoonist Lars Vilks believes he was intended victim of shooter who killed two

James Tapsfield, Scott D'Arcy and David Wilcock

A controversial cartoonist has said he believes he was the original target of the gunman who killed two people in Copenhagen.

Lars Vilks said it "seems likely" he was the intended victim of the shooter who peppered the Krudttonden cafe, leaving one civilian dead and three police officers injured, before killing a synagogue guard on the Jewish sabbath.

Policemen are seen along a street in central Copenhagen REUTERS/Martin Sylvest/Scanpix Denmark
Policemen are seen along a street in central Copenhagen REUTERS/Martin Sylvest/Scanpix Denmark
A police secures the police headquarters in Copenhagen REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke
An armed security officer runs down a street near a venue after shots were fired where an event titled "Art, blasphemy and the freedom of expression" was being held in Copenhagen (AP Photo/Polfoto, Kenneth Meyer)

Swede Vilks, who has received police protection since portraying the Prophet Mohammed as a dog in a picture in 2007, spoke as police tonight raided an internet cafe in Copenhagen as they hunt for clues to the killer's motives and any accomplices.

Mr Vilks told ITV News: "I'm more interesting as a target the more known I am and when you're in the media you can be even more of a symbolic target and that is how things work."

The gunman killed film director Finn Norgaard, 55, at the cafe during an event about freedom of speech before fleeing. In a later attack on the city's main synagogue, he gunned down 37-year-old security guard Dan Uzan, who was guarding a building behind the synagogue during a bar mitzvah.

Read more: Police shoot dead man believed to be responsible for Copenhagen shootings

Copenhagen police said tonight that the shooter was a Danish-born 22-year -old known to police for violence and gang-related offences. Officers said they had an address in the Norrebro area of the Danish city under observation and hailed him as he approached, but he opened fire and was taken out by marksmen early this morning.

Vilks described the scene as the attack on the cafe unfolded at around 4pm yesterday.

Police personnel and vehicles are seen along a street in central Copenhagen REUTERS/Martin Sylvest/Scanpix Denmark
Police personnel and vehicles are seen along a street in central Copenhagen REUTERS/Martin Sylvest/Scanpix Denmark
Forensic investigators are seen at the site of a shooting in Copenhagen REUTERS/Liselotte Sabroe/Scanpix Denmark

He told ITV News that automatic gunfire came in through the window of the venue, adding: "But what you heard from the inside when I was sitting there and we were listening to a lecture and suddenly it started to come these bang bang sounds and at first it seemed so unreal then the bodyguards reacted and I understood there was an attack going on."

He said he was taken to a storeroom where he was guarded by two armed policemen.

Rabbi Jair Melchior, Denmark's chief rabbi, praised Mr Uzan as an "irreplaceable" security guard protecting the city's Jewish community.

"He was a person who was always willing to help. An amazing, amazing guy," he said.

Read more: 'They wanted another Charlie Hebdo': Gunmen on the run after killing man in 200-bullet attack on Copenhagen café hosting free speech talk

Police in Copenhagen said they were continuing to work with PET, the Danish domestic security service, to work out the killer's movements before and after the attacks and whether he had help from others.

Prime Minister David Cameron described the attacks as an "appalling attack on free speech and religious freedom" and offered Britain's support.

Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt - who this morning visited the area - told reporters last night: "We feel certain now that it's a politically motivated attack, and thereby it is a terrorist attack.

"We take this situation extremely seriously. We are in a high alarm all over the country, and our main priority at this stage is to catch the perpetrators and make sure that we find them as soon as possible."

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