COPENHAGEN - Two people have been killed and six injured in twin shootings in the Danish capital, with one attack targeting a cultural centre hosting a debate on Islam and free speech.
A gunman sprayed bullets at the Krudttonden cultural centre Saturday as it hosted a seminar in which Lars Vilks - the Swedish artist whose controversial Prophet Mohammed cartoon sparked worldwide protests in 2007 - was among the speakers.
Hours later, a man was shot in the head and killed near Copenhagen's main synagogue in the city centre. Two policemen were also wounded in the shooting at around 1:00 am on Sunday morning, police said.
A 55-year-old man was killed in the first attack, and three police officers wounded.
Police said they did not have enough information to confirm whether the two shootings, which come just weeks after a series of bloody Islamist attacks in Paris that left 17 people dead, were linked.
A huge manhunt operation was underway in Denmark overnight after the attacker fled following both shootings. Helicopters were heard whirring over the capital in the early hours.
Danish Prime Minister Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt described the assault on the cultural centre as "a terrorist attack", while the United States branded it "deplorable".
Tight security in Copenhagen
Police spokesman Allan Teddy Wadsworth-Hansen declined to say whether detectives were looking for the same gunman for both attacks.
"We simply don't know that and it's too early to comment on at the moment," he told a press conference early Sunday.
"There have been two incidents and we are searching for two perpetrators." He confirmed however that the person killed in the second incident was immediately outside the synagogue.
Danish police released a photo of the suspect in the cultural centre attack, describing him as 25-30 years old and around 185cm (six feet) tall, with an athletic build.
He is seen wearing a dark anorak and a maroon hat and carrying a black bag.
Police said the gunman who fled the scene of the second shooting had been wearing black trousers, black shoes and a light grey jacket with "multi-coloured" parts.
The central area that is home to both Copenhagen's main synagogue and Noerreport station, the country's busiest rail hub, had been cordoned off by police carrying machine guns. People living in the area were turned away.
Wadsworth-Hansen said police appeared to have been the target of the second shooting, which was metres from the synagogue.
"It started with police being down at the site. A person comes up and starts to shoot," he told reporters.
Swedish security services told AFP after the first shooting that they were on alert for any attempt by the suspect to cross the bridge that links Denmark with Sweden.