• Several killed, hurt in mall shooting
• 22-year-old Dane held; ‘act of terror’ not ruled out
Several people were killed in a shooting at a shopping centre in Copenhagen yesterday, Danish police said, adding they had arrested a 22-year-old Danish man and could not rule out it was an “act of terrorism”.
“There are several injured, and what we also know now is that there are several dead,” Chief Police Inspector Soren Thomassen told journalists, adding police had launched a massive search operation throughout the local Zealand region.
Copenhagen police said armed officers were sent to Field’s mall in the Danish capital late yesterday afternoon after reports of a shooting and had told people inside to stay put and await assistance. Local media footage showed groups of terrified shoppers running from the mall.
There was no initial indication that other shooters had been present, police said, and Thomassen declined to comment on possible motives or whether the shooter was known to police.
They had no indication that the man had acted together with others, and police were maintaining an increased presence both around the shopping mall and across Copenhagen, he added.
The attack occurred two days after this year’s Tour de France cycling competition started from Copenhagen, and the Tour organisers released a statement expressing their sympathy.
“The entire caravan of the Tour de France sends its sincerest condolences to the victims and their families,” it said.
Witnesses quoted by the Danish media described how the suspect had tried to trick people by saying his weapon was a fake one, to get them to approach.
“He was sufficiently psychopathic to go and hunt people, but he wasn’t running,” one witness told DR state television.
Other eyewitnesses told Danish media they had seen more than 100 people rush towards the mall’s exit as the first shots were fired.
“We could see that many people suddenly ran towards the exit and then we heard a bang,” Thea Schmidt, who was in the mall at time of the attack told broadcaster TV2. “Then we ran out of Field’s too.”
Police had urged people in the building to wait inside for their arrival, calling on others to keep away from the area.
Police also asked witnesses to get in touch with them and called on those who had been visiting the shopping mall to contact loved ones to reassure them.
“All of a sudden we heard gunshots, I heard 10 shots, and we ran as far as we could to take refuge in the toilet,” Isabella told public broadcaster DR. She said she had hidden in the mall for two hours.
Other witnesses described the gunman as a man around 1.8ms (five feet nine inches) tall carrying a hunting rifle.
At around 7:30pm (1730 GMT), roads around the mall were blocked, the subway was closed and a helicopter was flying above, said an AFP correspondent at the scene.
Heavily armed police kept onlookers back prevented locals from returning to their homes.
The capital’s main hospital, Rigshospitalet, had received a “small group of patients” for treatment, a spokesperson said, and had called in extra doctors and nurses.
Danish tabloid BT published unverified video footage it said was shot by a witness to the attack, Mahdi Al-wazni, showing a man with a large rifle walking through the mall and swinging it around his shoulders.
“He seemed very aggressive and shouted different things,” Al-wazni told BT.
Footage published by tabloid Ekstra Bladet showed one person being carried by rescue workers into an ambulance on a stretcher.
“People first thought it was a thief ... Then I suddenly hear shots and threw myself behind the counter inside the store,” an eyewitness, Rikke Levandovski, told broadcaster TV2.
“He is just shooting into the crowd, not up in ceiling or into the floor,” she added.
The multi-storey shopping mall is located around 5km south of downtown Copenhagen.
“My friend and I...suddenly we hear shots. I hear about ten shots and then run as fast as we can into a toilet. We squeeze into this tiny toilet where we are around 11 people,” a witness who gave her name as Isabella told public broadcaster DR.
The attack follows a deadly shooting in neighbouring Norway last week, in which two people were killed by a lone shooter in the capital Oslo.
The terrorist threat against Denmark is currently assessed to be “serious”, with the biggest threat coming from “militant Islamism”, according to the latest report from the Danish Security and Intelligence Service.
The threat to Denmark from right-wing extremists is considered at a “general” level, which means there is capability and/or intent and possibly planning.
Denmark last saw a militant attack in 2015, when two people were killed and six police officers wounded when a lone gunman shot and killed a man outside a culture centre hosting a debate on freedom of speech, and later killed a person outside a Jewish synagogue in central Copenhagen. That gunman was killed in a shoot-out with police.
A concert due to be held by singer Harry Styles in Copenhagen last night not far from the shopping centre was cancelled, police said.
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