US offers sympathy, support after Denmark attacks

State Department says Americans stand with Danes, others who defend freedom of speech and oppose ‘anti-Semitism and bigotry’

Well-wishers bring flowers and light candles to honor the shooting victims outside the main Synagogue in Copenhagen, Denmark on February 15, 2015. (AFP/Odd Andersen)
Well-wishers bring flowers and light candles to honor the shooting victims outside the main Synagogue in Copenhagen, Denmark on February 15, 2015. (AFP/Odd Andersen)

The United States on Sunday condemned deadly attacks in Copenhagen this weekends, as it lashed out against all forms of bigotry, including anti-Semitism.

Officials said the suspected gunman behind the double shootings that killed two people at a cultural center and a synagogue before he was shot dead by police may have been inspired by last month’s Paris attacks.

Washington “condemns the terrorist attacks that took place over the weekend in Copenhagen,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.

“Our deepest condolences go out to the family of the victims who were killed, and our thoughts are with the security officials injured in these terror attacks.”

Psaki said the United States had offered assistance as Denmark investigates the deadly incidents.

“The people of the United States stand united with the people of Denmark and all others who defend the universal right of freedom of speech and stand against anti-Semitism and bigotry in all its forms,” Psaki added.

In a killing spree that bore a striking resemblance to the Paris attacks, the gunman first fired off a volley of bullets on Saturday at a cultural center where a panel discussion about Islam and free speech was taking place.

A 55-year-old man identified by the media as documentary filmmaker Finn Norgaard was killed at the event, which was also attended by Lars Vilks, a Swedish cartoonist behind a controversial caricature of the Prophet Mohammed, and the French ambassador.

In the second attack, the gunman opened fire outside the city’s main synagogue while a bar mitzvah was being celebrated, killing a 37-year-old Jewish man named as Dan Uzan, who was guarding the building.

Five police were also wounded in the attacks that stoked fear in the city of about one million people, one of the world’s safest capitals.

Earlier Sunday, public figures across Europe and beyond condemned the attack.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Europe-1 radio he was struck by how closely the bloody sequence of events in Copenhagen tracked the January 7-9 attacks in Paris.

“First, an attack against the symbol of freedom of expression. Next an attack against the Jews, and then the clash with police,” Fabius said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron denounced the “appalling attack on free speech and religious freedom.”

“Two innocent people have been murdered simply for their beliefs and my thoughts are with their loved ones and all those injured at this tragic time,” Cameron said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her “deepest sympathy for the family members of the victims in these difficult hours,” spokesman Georg Streiter wrote in a statement.

Merkel confirmed that Germany is standing firmly on Denmark’s side and assured Danish Prime Minister Thorning-Schmidt that Germany would continue to closely cooperate in all measure regarding the fight against terrorism.

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