Man's jaw blown off in grenade attack
Friday, 24 April 2009
A number of people were injured - one seriously - when a hand
grenade was thrown at them outside a Christiania café
A young man had part of his jaw blown off in an indiscriminate attack
last night in the Christiania area of Copenhagen.
The 22-year-old and four friends were sitting at a picnic table
outside Café Nemoland when a hand grenade landed near them shortly
The man's face was badly injured when he was hit by shrapnel, but
his condition was described as stable last night.
Three of his companions received less severe injuries to their backs
and legs, while one escaped injury in the attack. The three have been
discharged from hospital.
Henrik Vedel from the Copenhagen Police called it an 'unscrupulous
attack, where the perpetrator had no qualms about who was hit'. Vedel
said the hand grenade had been thrown from a darkened area behind the
restaurant, but so far police have found no trace of the attacker.
No motive has yet been established for the attack and police said
none of the five people at the table were previously known to
authorities. They have appealed for witnesses to the attack to come
forward with any information.
'Quiet' Copenhagen cracks down on deadly gang war
COPENHAGEN (AFP) A grenade tossed into a cafe, gunfire in the
street, dead bodies splayed on the pavement, residents living in fear
-- all sounds out of sync with the medieval cobbled streets and
copper roofs of the Danish capital.
But a bloody gang war between bikers and youths of immigrant origin
has shattered Copenhagen's customary calm and jolted officials to
boost action against violence that has left three dead and 17 wounded
in seven months.
Two more attacks this week -- one Friday using a hand grenade --
heightened alarm, even if police would not immediately link them to gangs.
"We won't accept this settling of scores between gangs that is
frightening the population," Anders Fogh Rasmussen said earlier this
month before stepping down as prime minister to become NATO secretary general.
Officials, he vowed, would "take all necessary means to halt the
escalating violence," as Copenhagen's police chief promised to use
"Al Capone-like tactics" to go after the gangs.
The battle over drug sales, revenge and wounded honour pits Hells
Angels bikers and their offshoot called AK81 against gangs of mainly
second and third-generation immigrant youths.
The long-simmering conflict exploded into full-blown war last August,
after a 19-year-old man of Turkish origin named Osam Nuri Dogan, who
was armed and wearing a bullet-proof vest, was executed on the street.
His body was riddled with 25 bullets in front of a Copenhagen pizza parlour.
A member of AK81 suspected of the killing was arrested but quickly
released for lack of evidence.
Since then, violent acts of retaliation have become almost a daily
occurrence in the capital -- and raised concern of fueling
anti-immigrant sentiment in a country long skeptical of Muslims where
tightening immigration has been the cornerstone of government policy.
Early Friday, an unknown assailant launched a grenade at a packed
cafe patronized by bikers in Christiania, Copenhagen's giant squat
and repair of free spirits and marginals since the 1970s. Four were
wounded, including a 22-year-old man whose cheek was ripped out by
the blast. "It was an odious attack... and a miracle that no one was
killed," a city deputy police commissioner, Boris Jensen, told AFP.
It came a week after another attack in Christiania in which an AK81
member shot and seriously wounded a 30-year-old man in the stomach.
Tabloids said it was gangs settling scores but police, again, would
not confirm this.
The majority of attacks -- including one Wednesday in which police
said "two men on a motorcycle" shot and wounded a 29-year-old man of
Egyptian-Eritrean descent -- have occurred in the heavily immigrant
The sound of gunfire there has become all too common but residents
were shocked out of complacency two months ago when three separate
shootings in as many days killed two people with no links to gangs
and wounded four others.
Protesters dressed in mourning as for a funeral have repeatedly
marched through the capital demanding a "gun-free zone" in Noerrebro
so people can take a walk "without worrying about being killed by a
Rasmussen personally visited a Noerrebro school in early April to try
to calm nerves. "You shouldn't have to have a knot of fear in your
stomach when you go outside," he told a worried 16-year-old.
Police have dramatically increased their presence in trouble zones.
Parliament, meanwhile, has scheduled a major hearing on the gang war
on April 29 and the justice ministry is preparing a draft law to
bolster legal action.
The bill, which parliament is expected to approve before summer
recess, will "lead to a doubling of penalties for certain types of
serious crimes committed in connection with the retaliatory attacks
between gangs," said Justice Minister Brian Mikkelsen.
It would also dramatically increase jail time for possession of
illegal weapons and give police more leeway in tapping phones and
holding suspects in custody.
"We will give them no peace," Copenhagen chief police inspector Per
Larsen told AFP, saying more than 200 illegal weapons had been seized
from gang members in recent months. "We're going to be after them,
put pressure on them, use Al Capone-like tactics and cooperate with
the tax authorities to stop their illegal sources of financing, which
have been keeping this war going," he said.
The attacks have raised the spectre of a repeat of a gang war that
raged in the 1990s, which left 11 people dead.
"The gangs have recruited a lot in recent months," said Copenhagen
police chief Jens Henrik Hoejbjerg.
He said nearly 80 different groups of bikers and immigrant-origin
youths, or a total of 944 people, have been under police
surveillance, though he said the city's true number of gang members
-- most of them bikers -- was probably closer to 1,500.
Already in 2008, at least 76 of the 167 shootings registered in
Denmark, mainly in Copenhagen, were directly linked to gangs. A year
earlier, the Scandinavian country had only 28 shootings, under half
of which were attributed to gangs.
Some fear the gang violence could fan racial hostility, as a March 11
YouGov Zapera poll showed that 74 percent of Danes felt "immigrants"
were primarily responsible for the gang wars.
"This is no longer just a conflict about money and power but ...
between those who feel profound hatred towards 'immigrants' and those
who feel the same way towards 'racists'," Michael Hviid Jacobsen, a
criminologist at the University of Aalborg, told AFP.
And this "explains the ease with which the two sides have been
recruiting," he said.
Jacobsen partly blames politicians and the media, saying they tend to
use the term "immigrant" for anti-biker gang members even though most
are Danish-born from families who immigrated two or three generations ago.
Others point the finger at police.
"The police only focus on the darkies as if we were responsible for
everything," Hassan, a Noerrebro teenager who refused to give his
last name, told AFP.
Police roundly reject the accusation.
"It's absurd. We don't discriminate," said chief police inspector
Larsen. "We are also putting pressure on the bikers, searching them too.
"Our goal is to end this war, that's all," he said.