Swedish Cartoonist Targeted in Copenhagen Terrorist Attack

Posted on February 14, 2015

Lars Vilks, the 68 year old cartoonist who came under fire in 2007 for drawing a cartoon about the prophet Mohammed, was the target of a terrorist attack in Copenhagen, Denmark, today which left one person dead and three wounded.

The New York Times reports that the Krudttoenden cafe was hosting a public event on freedom of speech called "Art, Blasphemy and Freedom of Expression." The featured speaker was Swedish artist Lars Vilks. Vilks still receives death threats on a regular basis from Islamic extremists. A gunman opened fire into the cafe, but did not make it inside the venue. One patron was killed and three policemen were injured. Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt denounced the terrorist attack and said the country is now on high alert for more violence.

The gunman got away and is at large. Police later found an abandoned Volkswagen that he used for his escape. The French ambassador to Denmark, François Zimeray, was at the event, and tweeted his thanks to police that saved his life. When talking to reporters he compared the style of attack to the one at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris in January, saying, "They fired on us from the outside. It was the same intention as Charlie Hebdo, except they didn't manage to get in."

Vilks is under constant threat of death and is usually guarded by Swedish police bodyguards. The Danish police were ready when the attack began. They returned fire and prevented the gunman from getting into the cafe. The gunman had an automatic weapon and it seems clear form reports that if the police had not been there it would have been a bloodbath. The police have released a photo of the suspect who is the subject of a major manhunt.

Vilks told the Associated Press, "At first there was panic. People crawled down under tables. My bodyguards quickly pulled me away. ... We were well isolated in there. It would have been much worse if this happened during the break, when people walk out." Vilks says he deplores the violence and loss of life. He is at an undisclosed location for his own safety. Here is raw footage from the venue:

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