Saturday 22 October 2016

Isil claims knife attack in which nine hurt at Minnesota shopping centre

Ruth Sherlock Washington

Published 19/09/2016 | 02:30

The scene at the Crossroads Center mall in St Cloud, northwest of Minneapolis-St Paul. Photo:Getty Images
The scene at the Crossroads Center mall in St Cloud, northwest of Minneapolis-St Paul. Photo:Getty Images

A man who stabbed nine people in a Minnesota shopping centre before being shot dead was a "soldier" of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the group claimed yesterday as the FBI investigated the attack as a potential act of terrorism.

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The man, who was wearing a private security uniform, made references to Allah and asked at least one person if they were Muslim before attacking shoppers at the Crossroads Center in St Cloud on Saturday.

He was then shot and killed by an off-duty police officer.

"[The] executor of the stabbing attacks in Minnesota yesterday was a soldier of the Islamic State," said Amaq news agency, a propaganda outfit for Isil.

The bulletin said the attack was carried out in response to the group's call to "target citizens of countries belonging to the crusader coalition" - a reference to the US-led alliance of countries participating in a bombing campaign against the jihadist group in Syria and in Iraq.

The wounded were not named but included one 15-year-old girl, said Dave Kleis, the mayor of St Cloud. All were expected to survive.

The mayor named the off-duty police officer who killed the attacker as Jason Falconer.

"He clearly prevented additional injuries and, potentially, loss of life," Mr Kleis said.

"The suspect was lunging at him with a knife, he fired, the suspect went down and came back up at him on three different occasions."

Rick Thornton, an FBI official in charge of the investigation, said the stabbing spree was being investigated as a "potential act of terrorism".

Mr Thornton said there was still "a lot we don't know" about any possible international link to the assailant.

Witnesses in the shopping centre in St Cloud, about 100km north-west of Minneapolis, said the attacker had been muttering words that were apparently addressed to Allah, and asked at least one person if they were a Muslim before stabbing them.

Sydney Weires, a student who was at the shopping centre with two friends, said she heard a scream and saw a man who looked like a security guard sprint down a hallway.

Two men stumbled out, one with blood on his face and the other bleeding from his back. The men screamed to get out because someone had a knife.

Local police chief William Anderson said the unidentified attacker was known to police for minor traffic offences. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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