IS-run agency says shopping centre attacker was 'soldier of the Islamic State'
Published 18/09/2016 | 06:41
An IS-run news agency claims the man who stabbed and wounded eight people at a shopping mall in Minnesota, before being shot dead by an off-duty police officer, was a "soldier of the Islamic State".
The Rasd news agency reported the claim on Sunday, saying the attacker had heeded calls from the extremist group for attacks in countries that are part of a US-led anti-IS coalition.
It was not clear if the extremist group had planned the attack, or even knew about it beforehand.
IS has encouraged so-called "lone wolf" attacks. It has also claimed past attacks that are not believed to have been planned by its central leadership.
All eight victims of Saturday's attack were treated in hospital for wounds that were not life-threatening, and all but one were later released.
The attack happened at around 8pm local time at the Crossroads Centre in St Cloud, a city of about 65,000 people 60 miles north west of Minneapolis.
The man, who was dressed in a private security uniform and made references to Allah, was shot dead by an off-duty police officer, authorities said.
St Cloud police chief Blair Anderson said an off-duty police officer from another jurisdiction shot and killed the unidentified suspect, who was armed with a knife.
The man stabbed people in several locations in the centre, including corridors, businesses and common areas, the police chief said.
The shopping centre went into lockdown after the attack. Photos and video taken hours after the incident showed groups of shoppers waiting to be released, including some huddled together near a food court entrance.
Harley and Tama Exsted, of Isle, Minnesota, who were in St Cloud to watch their son play in a college golf tournament, were in the centre when the incident happened.
"All of a sudden I heard pop, pop, pop," Harley Exsted told the St Cloud Times. "I thought someone tipped over a shelf. All of a sudden these people started running. I just saw everybody running our way."
There were also reports of some shots fired during the attack.
The couple were unharmed and said they helped another woman who was running from the scene to her car.
Adonis Samuels, 42, of St Cloud, was outside the centre where his wife Roxanne was working.
"She called me on the phone and told me she was hiding under the counter with a customer," Mr Samuels said. She later called and said she was safe in a secured area.
Mr Samuels remained outside, watching for her. He said he had seen her through the glass doors at one point so he knew she was safe.
The father of the apparent attacker has identified him as a 22-year-old college student.
Ahmed Adan told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis that police told him Saturday night that his son, Dahir Adan, died at the Crossroads mall in St Cloud.
He said police did not mention the attack on the mall, but they seized photos and other materials from the family's apartment.
Authorities have not publicly identified the attacker.
Ahmed Adan, who is Somali, said his son arrived in the US 15 years ago and was a student at St Cloud Technical and Community College. He told the Star Tribune he had "no suspicion" that his son might have been involved in terrorist activity.