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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Denmark posts troops at Copenhagen synagogue and the Israeli embassy for Jewish holiday

The deployment is the first by troops in the Danish capital since the Second World War

Danish soldierseplace the police guard outside the Jewish Synagogue and israeli in Copenhagen, Denmark, on September 29, 2017. Mads Claus Rasmussen / Denmark OUT/AFP
Danish soldierseplace the police guard outside the Jewish Synagogue and israeli in Copenhagen, Denmark, on September 29, 2017. Mads Claus Rasmussen / Denmark OUT/AFP

For the first time since the Second World War, the Danish military deployed troops in Copenhagen on Friday to guard the city's synagogue and the Israeli embassy ahead of the Yom Kippur Jewish holiday.

The soldiers replace the police guard which has been in place at the synagogue and the Israeli embassy since two deadly attacks in 2015. Armed soldiers were posted outside Copenhagen's main synagogue, with the narrow medieval street where it is located sealed off on both ends, hours before the start of Yom Kippur on Friday evening.

"This is the first time they are used in this type of situation, so it's unique," Copenhagen police spokesman Rasmus Bernt Skovsgaard said.

Danish police have protected Jewish institutions in the country since Omar El Hussein, a Danish citizen of Palestinian origin who swore allegiance to ISIL, opened fire outside the synagogue, killing one Jewish man and wounding two police officers in 2015. Some hours earlier, El Hussein attacked a cultural centre hosting a free speech and Islam forum attended by the controversial Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who faced death threats for penning a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed.

A filmmaker, Finn Norgaard, was killed in that attack. Police later killed El Hussein.

The soldiers, who will be deployed until March 2018, are "well-trained and equipped to carry out this type of mission," said Lieutenant-Colonel Steen Dalsgaard of the Danish army.

Some 160 soldiers have been deployed in Copenhagen and at the Danish-German border, where controls were restored at the end of 2015 to limit a migrant influx.

Denmark's terror threat level is "serious", ranked four on a five-point scale, according to the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET).

The latest deployment is not a response to any new threat, but rather aims to assist Copenhagen police strained by operations in other parts of the city.

Police will continue to guard the Jewish museum and the school.

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