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ISIS Claims Responsibility for St. Cloud Mall Attack

September 19, 2016 10:28 AM

An Islamic State-run news agency claims the man who stabbed and wounded eight people at a mall in Minnesota before being shot dead by an off-duty police officer was a "soldier of the Islamic State."

The IS-run 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 U.S.-led anti-IS coalition.

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It was not immediately 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.

Crossroads Mall in St. Cloud will remain closed through Sunday as police continue to investigate. 

"At approximately 8 p.m., an armed suspect entered the Crossroads Mall. That individual made some references to Allah and we confirmed that he asked at least one person if they were Muslim before assaulting them," said St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson.

According to authorities, the suspect was later shot by an off-duty police officer from another jurisdiction. Investigators say the suspect was carrying at least one knife.

Of the eight victims, one was admitted to the hospital. Investigators say the injuries were not life threatening. 

Police believe the suspect acted alone.

"Right now we don't have any information that would indicate that anyone else is involved," said Anderson.

Authorities say the suspect was wearing a private security uniform at the time of the attack. They say they had contact with the suspect in the past, but all of those cases were for minor traffic violations.

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 mall when the incident occurred.

"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."

"It has hit home for us. But I want everybody in St. Cloud to know that we will be diligent and we will get to the bottom of this," said Anderson.

WATCH: St. Cloud Police news conference.

WATCH: Chopper 5 flies over Crossroads Mall.

WATCH: Video of victims being taken away by ambulances.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Credits

Nate Leding

Copyright 2016 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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