Denmark Buries Jewish Shooting Victim as Security Questions Mount


Crowds of mourners turned out Wednesday amid high security for the funeral of a Jewish man killed in the Copenhagen shooting spree as questions mounted about whether more could have been done to prevent the attacks.

Dan Uzan, a 37-year-old volunteer security guard, was killed outside Copenhagen's main synagogue in the second of two weekend shootings that sent jitters across Europe.

Security was tight as hundreds of people gathered at a Jewish cemetery in Copenhagen for Uzan's funeral, with police out in force along with sniffer dogs and snipers posted on nearby rooftops.

Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who said this week that "an attack on the Jews of Denmark is an attack on Denmark", plans to attend the ceremony, according to Ritzau news agency.

"Everybody in our community knew Dan," Dan Rosenberg Asmussen, the head of the Danish Jewish community, told AFP.

"He was always ready to his part, he was a very fine example for the whole community."

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.

Danish intelligence acknowledged on Tuesday that the suspected gunman, identified as a 22-year-old with a history of violent crime, had been had been flagged up as being at risk of radicalization while he was in prison.

But police dismissed criticism they had failed to boost security after the Paris attacks in January that 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 Copenhagen attacks, according to the paper.

The alleged gunman, named as Omar El-Hussein, launched his rampage on Saturday, first firing off dozens of rounds outside a cultural center where a debate on Islam and free speech was taking place.

Finn Noergaard, a 55-year-old Danish documentary film director, 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, a Danish-born man of Palestinian origin, died in a hail of police bullets 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".

The Danish intelligence agency said Tuesday the prison service had raised concerns last year that El-Hussein was "at risk of radicalization" but that there was no evidence he had been planning attacks.

Politicians from the center-right opposition have proposed talks with the government about improving the ability of the nation's police force 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 center before peppering the windows with bullets.

Witnesses have said the death toll could have been far higher if he had managed to enter the building.

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.

The rampage, coming so soon after the Paris attacks, triggered fears of a new surge in anti-Semitic violence and saw several European nations rush to reassure their Jewish communities.

Sweden's public radio station Sveriges Radio apologized Tuesday after one of its journalists asked the country's Israeli ambassador if Jews themselves were "responsible for the progression of anti-Semitism?"

SR offered its "fullest apologies" and said: "The Jewish community has suffered a horrible act of terror and has all our sympathy."

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