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Feb 14, 2015 5:02 PM

Artist believes he was intended target in Copenhagen attack

The Associated Press

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) At least one gunman opened fire Saturday on a Copenhagen cultural center, killing a man in what authorities called a likely terror attack against a free speech event featuring an artist who had caricatured the Prophet Muhammad.

The shooting, which also wounded three police officers, came a month after extremists killed 12 people at a satirical newspaper in Paris that had sparked Muslim outrage with its depictions of Muhammad.

Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who organized and attended Saturday's event but escaped unharmed, told The Associated Press he believed he was the intended target of the shooting.

"What other motive could there be? It's possible it was inspired by Charlie Hebdo," he said, referring to the Jan. 7 attack by Islamic extremists on the French newspaper in Paris.

The 68-year-old Vilks has received numerous threats for drawing the Prophet Muhammad with a dog's body in 2007.

Danish police said the gunman used an automatic weapon to shoot through the windows of the Krudttoenden cultural center, which TV footage showed were riddled with bullet holes. The gunman then fled in a carjacked Volkswagen Polo that was found later a few kilometers (miles) away, police said.

Vilks said he was attending a freedom of speech event in a lecture hall inside the building, which also houses a cafe, when shots rang out outside.

"At first there was panic. People crawled down under tables," Vilks said. "My bodyguards quickly pulled me away."

He said no one inside the lecture hall was wounded.

"We were well isolated in there. It would have been much worse if this happened during the break, when people walk out," Vilks said.

He said he deplored the death and the injuries but was unfazed as to what it meant for his own safety.

"I'm not shaken at all by this incident. Not the least," he told AP by phone. He declined to reveal his location for security reasons.


Ritter reported from Stockholm. Thomas Adamson in Paris contributed to this st.


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