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Gunman wounds 2 Israelis in Denmark mall

A gunman wounded two Israelis working at a packed central Denmark shopping mall Wednesday, Danish police said.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A gunman shot and wounded two Israelis working at a packed central Denmark shopping mall Wednesday, police said.

Police spokesman Lars Thede said it was not immediately clear whether the Israelis were targeted because of their nationality. A video surveillance camera showed a swarthy man with a dark mustache and dark hair in his mid-20s pulling out a gun before opening fire.

"We cannot say whether he is Palestinian, Iraqi, Iranian or Bosnian, or where he is from," Thede said.

"It is too early to say whether this has something to do with what happens elsewhere," he said, referring to an Israeli offensive under way against Gaza's Hamas rulers in retaliation for rocket fire. The strikes have killed some 390 people so far.

Poul Bjoernhold Loehde, head of the police in Odense, said the Danish Security and Intelligence Service had been informed of the shooting.

"Because of the present world situation, we have contacted them. To us, it is an ordinary criminal case," Bjoernhold Loehde told The Associated Press.

No one at the agency was available for comment.

The two wounded men are Israelis in their 20s, Thede said. One of the wounded was shot in the arm and the other in the leg, police said. The wounds are not life threatening, police said.

The shooting took place at the Rosengaard mall in Odense, 170 kilometers (105 miles) west of Copenhagen. It occurred around 3.30 p.m. (1430 GMT), when the mall was filled with people doing last-minute shopping before the New Year's break.

Alem Dervisevic, an eyewitness, told TV2 that he thought fireworks were going off when the shooting occurred.

"But then we saw gun rounds on the floor, we saw people running and shouting," Dervisevic told TV2. "I saw blood and a man lying down near Kvickly (supermarket) and ambulance people picking him up."

The men, who were selling hair care products, had been harassed by a group of youths in recent days, Denmark's Ritzau news agency said. The nature of the harassment was not immediately known. According to the B.T. newspaper's Web site, a man shouted something in a Middle Eastern language and opened fire. Another Israeli inside the hairdressing shop threw a chair at the gunman, the newspaper said.

The shooter escaped in a dark vehicle which later was found nearby by police.