Shots Fired At Free Speech Event In Copenhagen, Denmark: At Least One Person Dead, Suspects At Large

At least one person is dead and at least two people are injured after two or more gunmen opened fire at a café hosting a free speech event in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Guardian is reporting.

The Krudttønden Café in northern Copenhagen was hosting an event entitled “Art, Blasphemy, and the Freedom of Expression,” and was hosted by Lars Viks, a Swedish artist who has himself faced death threats for his cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed.

François Zimeray, the French ambassador to Denmark, was in attendance.

“They fired on us from the outside. It was the same intention as [the 7 January attack on] Charlie Hebdo except they didn’t manage to get in.”

It is unclear, as of this post, if the gunmen were targeting anyone specifically or were firing indiscriminately into the Copenhagen café.

At least one person is dead in the shooting, although as of this post, it is unclear if that person is one of the gunmen, someone in attendance in the café, or a police officer responding to the shooting. Fox News reports that a uniformed police officer was seen being carried away on a stretcher. Vilks and Zimeray were uninjured in the shooting. The assailants fled the scene, and Copenhagen police have cordoned off the area around the café and are conducting a search for the gunmen. At least one report suggests they have fled into a nearby park.

BBC News reports that the gunmen fired at least 40 shots into the café.

Vilks has been under constant police protection and has suffered a series of death threats since he published a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed in 2007. Islam considers it a sin to represent Mohammed in art.

The Copenhagen shooting follows the January 7 massacre at the Paris headquarters of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Radical Islamists, in retaliation for the magazine’s publishing of unflattering cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, stormed the magazine’s headquarters and opened fire, killing 11 and wounding 11 more. The attacks spawned worldwide protests as well as starting a discussion about the role of free speech and the conflict between Western ideals that hold free speech sacred and Islamist ideals that consider insulting Islam, or its prophet, an offense worthy of death.

This is a breaking news story. More information about the Copenhagen shooting, including the identities of the victims, will be published when it becomes available.

[Image courtesy of: ABC News]