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Officials probe possibility of self-radicalization in Ohio State University attack

Investigators have said a student who ran down and stabbed pedestrians at an Ohio university may have been motivated by extremism. 'IS' has claimed responsibility for what officials described as a 'lone wolf' attack.

The 18-year-old who attacked pedestrians on a US university campus may have followed the same self-radicalization path as a number of other "lone wolf" attackers, police in Columbus, Ohio, said on Tuesday.

Abdul Razak Ali Artan, who was a student at the university, ran over pedestrians with a car and stabbed others with a butcher knife on Monday, wounding 11 people.

He was shot dead by a campus police officer moments after the attack.

USA Ohio State University Campus in Columbus (Reuters/thelantern.com/M. Swires)

Artan drove his car into a group of students and attacked them when a butcher knife on Monday

On Tuesday, a self-described "Islamic State" (IS) news agency called Artan "a soldier of the Islamic State" who "carried out the operation in response to calls to target citizens of international coalition countries."

So far, authorities have not found strong evidence linking Artan to known militant individuals, cells or groups, according to federal law enforcement officials.

Police have not yet given a motive for the attack.

Investigators are also looking into several posts on Artan's Facebook page where he criticized US interference in Muslim-majority countries.

"America! Stop interfering with other countries, especially the Muslim Ummah. We are not weak. We are not weak, remember that," he wrote, using the Arabic term for the world's Muslim community. A law enforcement official told the Associated Press about the posts on condition of anonymity.

"If you want us Muslims to stop carrying out lone wolf attacks, then make peace" with IS, read another post, according to the law enforcement official.

Students and professors are set to hold a vigil on Tuesday evening to begin healing. The university has also said it is providing counseling and called for students to "remain unified in the face of adversity."

Worries from Somali community

Muslim organizations, mosques, and the Somali community in the Columbus area condemned the attack, while also cautioning people from jumping to conclusions or blaming a religion or ethnic group.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest also warned against "casting aspersions" on all Muslims following such attacks.

Artan traveled with his family from Somali via Pakistan in 2014, US media reported. He started at Ohio State University in the fall after graduating with honors from Columbus State Community College last may with an Associates degree.

The Midwestern state where the attack took place is home to the second-largest Somali community in the US after Minnesota. Some 38,000 Somalis live in the Columbus area alone.

rs/gsw (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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