At least eight people have been hospitalized after a knife-wielding attacker went on a rampage at a mall in the US state of Minnesota. The assailant was reportedly shot dead by an off-duty police officer.
St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson said early Sunday that all eight people admitted to the hospital were being treated for non-life-threatening injuries after an unidentified suspected began stabbing people at a shopping mall in St. Cloud, a city of about 65,000 people.
IS-linked media claimed the perpetrator was "soldier of the Islamic State."
Authorities had said earlier that they were investigating the possibility that the attack was motivated by religious extremism. The assailant "made some references to Allah," Anderson told reporters. "We have confirmed that he asked at least one person if they were Muslim before he assaulted them."
"We will be diligent and get to the bottom of this," the chief said.
The assailant was reportedly shot and killed by an off-duty police officer who authorities declined to identify.
Bystander Harley Exsted told the St. Cloud Times newspaper that the attack sparked a panic inside the Crossroads Center shopping mall that's about 110 kilometers (70 miles) northwest of the state's largest city Minneapolis.
"All of a sudden I heard pop, pop, pop," he told the newspaper. "I thought someone tipped over a shelf. All of a sudden these people started running. I just saw everybody running our way."
The mall was locked down after the attack. Anderson, the police chief, says investigators are trying to gather the facts before jumping to conclusions. He said the investigation has just beginning and that "whether that was a terrorist attack or not, I'm not willing to say that right now because we just don't know."
jar/rc (AP, AFP)