Denmark buries Jewish shooting victim

COPENHAGEN (AFP) - Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt led hundreds of mourners Wednesday at the funeral of a Jewish man who was among two people killed in a shooting spree in Copenhagen that has terrorised the country.

Security was tight as crowds gathered at a Jewish cemetery in Copenhagen for the funeral of 37-year-old Dan Uzan, with large numbers of police along with sniffer dogs, and snipers posted on nearby rooftops.

Thorning-Schmidt was seen wiping away tears as chief rabbi Jair Melchior conducted the service.

The weekend attacks on a cultural centre and a synagogue blamed on a 22-year-old Danish man of Palestinian origin who reportedly became radicalised in prison, have raised questions about security in the normally peaceful nation.

The violence has also triggered fears of a new wave of anti-Semitic violence after last month's Islamic militant attacks in Paris.

"It was a funeral I hoped I would never (have to) conduct," Melchior told AFP.

"We did not want anything like that to happen, but we accept the reality and we said goodbye to a dear friend."

Dan Uzan, a 37-year-old volunteer security guard, was shot dead outside Copenhagen's main synagogue early Sunday, hours after the gunman opened fire at a cultural centre hosting a debate on Islam and free speech, killing a documentary maker.

Thorning-Schmidt and other European leaders have rushed to reassure Jews over their security after the killings and rebuff calls by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for European Jews to emigrate to the Jewish state.

"An attack on the Jews of Denmark is an attack on Denmark," the Danish premier told a vigil Monday.

Denmark's Jews have shown little inclination to leave the country where the vast majority of them were born and grew up.

"It's the same in Israel as Denmark. You are not more safe in Israel," said a 69-year-old woman who attended the funeral, giving her name as Sylvia.


Danish security services have come under scrutiny over what action had been taken to prepare for possible attacks in the wake of the Islamist killings in Paris just weeks before.

The domestic intelligence agency admitted Tuesday the prison service had raised concerns last year that Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein was "at risk of radicalisation" but that there was no evidence he had been planning attacks.

But police dismissed criticism they had failed to boost security after the Paris attacks, which killed 17 people including four Jews.

"The security level was raised after the incident (in Paris)," Peter Dahl, a senior police official, told the Jyllands-Posten newspaper.

However, members of the Jewish community in Denmark have said they did not notice any increased police protection ahead of the attacks, according to the paper.

The gunman launched his rampage on Saturday, first firing off dozens of rounds outside the cultural centre.

Finn Noergaard, a 55-year-old Danish documentary maker, was shot dead and three police officers were wounded.

Several hours later, the assailant opened fire outside the synagogue where a bar mitzvah was being celebrated, killing Uzan and injuring two policemen.

The suspect was eventually shot dead by police in a pre-dawn shootout on Sunday.

Two men have been charged with helping him dispose of his weapon and giving him somewhere to hide.


Local media reported that El-Hussein had only been released from prison two weeks ago after serving time for assault.

The Berlingske daily quoted unnamed friends as saying he came out "a changed person".

Politicians from the centre-right opposition have proposed talks with the government about improving the ability of the police to counter terrorism.

"If there are flaws in the equipment used by the police or in the training and resources provided for the police and intelligence service, we're prepared to discuss it with the government," Conservative leader Soeren Pape Poulsen told the daily Politiken.

Copenhagen police revealed that the gunman had tried unsuccessfully to use several entrances to the cultural centre before peppering the windows with bullets.

One of the participants at the debate was controversial Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who was believed to be the target of the attack and has now been forced into hiding.

Swedish police guarding Vilks helped prevent further bloodshed by opening fire during the attack, a fellow officer told local media.

"They believed that the attacker was hit. But he may have been wearing a bulletproof vest," the unidentified officer told Sydsvenskan.

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