Michael Probst / AP Photo

Thousands join vigil for Denmark shooting victims

Memorial in Copenhagen after gun attacks that left two people dead draws tens of thousands on frigid evening

Tens of thousands of Danes, including the prime minister and crown prince, gathered for a vigil in central Copenhagen on a freezing Monday night to commemorate the victims of two shootings.

People flocked to a rally on Monday in a square near the Krudttoenden cultural center, where the first attack took place. In Danish, Krudttoenden, translates to "powder keg."

"I am here with my daughter to show her that we live in a free country. No one must ruin it," said Aisha Abdi, a Somali Muslim and political refugee who brought her 12-year-old daughter, Irina.

Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said Danes had come together to "insist on living free and safe lives in a democratic country." President Barack Obama called her to offer condolences on Monday, the White House said via Twitter.

Earlier on Monday, Danish police said they had arrested two people on suspicion of aiding a gunman in deadly attacks during the weekend on a synagogue and an event promoting free speech.

Police raided a cafe on Sunday and detained four people, including the two men arraigned on Monday. The other two were released. "We are of course interested in whether he was alone and whether he was carrying anything and in which direction he went," police spokesman Joergen Skov said.

Also on Monday, a judge ordered 10 days of pre-trial detention for two people accused of helping the gunman dispose of a weapon while evading authorities. Both men deny the charges, said Michael Juul Eriksen, a defense lawyer for one of the two.

The gunman opened fire on a Copenhagen café hosting a free speech debate Saturday, killing one, and later attacked a synagogue, killing a guard.

The café event was attended by Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who has received death threats for his drawings of the Prophet Mohammad, and by French Ambassador Francois Zimeray, who likened the shootings to the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris. Vilks and Zimeray were both unharmed.

The first victim, 55-year-old film-maker Finn Norgaard, was killed when a gunman opened fire during a debate on free speech on Saturday.

The same attacker then targeted the city's main synagogue, killing 37-year-old Dan Uzan.

The 22-year-old gunman, identified as Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein by The Associated Press, was killed by police in a shootout on Sunday.

Jens Madsen, the director of the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) confirmed Sunday that the agency had been aware of the gunman, and that El-Hussein may have been inspired by last month's attacks by Islamic extremists in Paris that killed 17 people, according to The Associated Press.

The gunman was released from prison just two weeks ago after serving a term for aggravated assault according to news reports. "We are working on finding out what has happened," PET spokeswoman Lotte Holmstrup said Monday.

Wire services

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