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Posted: February 14, 2015 3:08 p.m.

1 dead in 'likely' terror attack in Copenhagen

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — At least one gunman opened fire Saturday on a Copenhagen cafe, killing one man in what authorities called a likely terror attack during a free speech event organized by 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 also sparked Muslim outrage with its depictions of Muhammad.

Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who has been repeatedly threatened after depicting Muhammad as a dog in 2007, organized and attended Saturday's event but was not hit by gunfire, police said.

"I saw a masked man running past," said Helle Merete Brix, one of the event's organizers. "I clearly consider this as an attack on Lars Vilks."

She and Vilks were quickly ushered away by the security detail that accompanies the artist whenever he is in Denmark.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the shooting, which took place shortly before 4 p.m. (1500 GMT, 10 a.m. EST). Denmark's security service, PET, said the circumstances surrounding the shooting "indicate that we are talking about a terror attack."

Danish police said the gunman used an automatic weapon to shoot through the windows of the Krudttoenden cafe, 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.

"I heard someone firing with an automatic weapons and someone shouting. Police returned the fire and I hid behind the bar. I felt surreal, like in a movie," Niels Ivar Larsen, one of the speakers at the event, told the TV2 channel.

Police initially said there were two gunmen but later said they believed there was only one shooter, and described him as 25-30 years old with an athletic build, and carrying a black automatic weapon. They released a blurred photograph of the suspect wearing dark clothes and a scarf covering part of his face.

The Copenhagen event, titled "Art, blasphemy and freedom of expression" featured a panel discussion about freedom of speech in the wake of the Jan. 7 massacre at the Charlie Hebdo paper in Paris.

Danish police said the victim Saturday was a 40-year-old man who was inside the cafe attending the event. He has not yet been identified.

Police spokesman Joergen Skov said it was possible the gunman had planned the "same scenario" as in the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

Visiting the scene of the shooting, Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said "our highest priority is to get the perpetrator arrested."

François Zimeray, the French ambassador to Denmark who was at the event to speak about the Charlie Hebdo attack, tweeted that he was "still alive." Police said he was not wounded.

French President Francois Hollande called the Copenhagen shooting "deplorable" and said Thorning-Schmidt would have the "full solidarity of France in this trial." French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve was travelling to Copenhagen as soon as possible, Hollande said in the statement.

Sweden's security service said they were sharing information about the case with their Danish counterparts but declined to give details.

Vilks, a 68-year-old Swedish artist, has faced several attempted attacks and death threats after he depicted the Prophet Muhammad as a dog in 2007.

A Pennsylvania woman last year got a 10-year prison term for a plot to kill Vilks. In 2010, two brothers tried to burn down his house in southern Sweden and were imprisoned for attempted arson.

Vilks told The Associated Press after the Paris terror attacks that, due to increased security concerns, even fewer organizations were inviting him to give lectures. He also said he thought Sweden's SAPO security service, which deploys bodyguards to protect him, would step up his security.

"This will create fear among people on a whole different level than we're used to," he said. "Charlie Hebdo was a small oasis. Not many dared do what they did."

The depiction of the prophet is deemed insulting to many followers of Islam. According to mainstream Islamic tradition, any physical depiction of the Prophet Muhammad — even a respectful one — is considered blasphemous.

While many Muslims have expressed disgust at the deadly assault on Charlie Hebdo employees, many were also deeply offended by its cartoons lampooning Muhammad. The newspaper also lampoons other religions, as well as governments and politicians.

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Karl Ritter in Stockholm and Thomas Adamson in Paris contributed to this story.

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