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Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen says she is "saddened and shaken" after assault, thanks supporters

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said she is feeling "shaken" but is otherwise "fine" after she was assaulted by a man at a central Copenhagen square on Friday night.

"Thank you for many, many, many greetings with support and backing," Frederiksen said in a post on Instagram on Saturday. "It's incredibly touching. I am saddened and shaken by the episode yesterday, but am otherwise fine."

She said she is resting and spending time with her family and is "grateful for the many greetings, flowers and loving thoughts."

Earlier Saturday, her office said Frederiksen was recovering from minor whiplash from the assault. Her office said she canceled her program for the day to rest.

The 46-year-old prime minister was walking in Kultorvet Square, one of the main piazzas in central Copenhagen, on Friday evening when she was assaulted by a 39-year-old man, police said. Details of the incident remain unclear but local media reported that the man seems to have forcefully walked toward Frederiksen and pushed her hard while she was passing Kultorvet Square.

The suspect was subsequently arrested and is set to appear Saturday in a pre-trial custody hearing at the Copenhagen District Court in Frederiksberg, a municipality enclave within the Danish capital.

Two witnesses, Marie Adrian and Anna Ravn, told newspaper BT that they had seen Frederiksen arrive at the square while they were sitting by a nearby fountain just before 6 p.m. 

"A man came by in the opposite direction and gave her a hard shove on the shoulder, causing her to fall to the side," the two women told the newspaper.

They said that while it was a "strong push," Frederiksen did not hit the ground. They said the prime minister then sat down at a nearby cafe. 

Danish PM Mette Frederiksen
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen at a news conference on April 15, 2024. Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

They described the man as tall and slim, and said he had tried to hurry away but had not gotten far before being grabbed and pushed to the ground by men in suits.

Copenhagen police confirmed that an incident involving the prime minister had occurred but did not provide further details.

"We have one person arrested in the case, which we are now investigating. At this time, we have no further comments or remarks on the case," police said in a statement posted on X.

The manager of a bar in the square told the Reuters news agency he saw Frederiksen walk away after the incident, escorted by security officers.

"Well, I saw the prime minister sitting with a friend at this table and just I think was one minute, two minutes afterwards, four PET (Danish national security and intelligence service) guys showed up, talked about an arrest has been made. And then she was escorted by the four PETs to some place around in the middle of the square and then escorted just a way around the corner," Soren Kjaergaard said.

Leaders in Denmark and elsewhere in Europe condemned the assault, which happened just days before the EU parliamentary elections on Sunday.

"I must say that it shakes all of us who are close to her," Danish Environment Minister Magnus Heunicke said in a post to social media. "Something like this must not happen in our beautiful, safe and free country."

"An attack on a democratically elected leader is also an attack on our democracy," said Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson. 

Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, called it a "cowardly act of aggression."

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed reporting.

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