ISIS claims credit for Minnesota mall attack

NEW YORK. KAZINFORM - The man who stabbed nine people at a Minnesota mall Saturday before being shot dead by an off-duty police officer was a "soldier of the Islamic state," according to an ISIS-linked news agency.

The statement posted online Sunday by the Amaq agency follows a pattern of ISIS-related media claiming responsibility for what appear to be the acts of individuals across Europe in the past few months, CNN reports.

CNN cannot independently confirm this latest claim.

"We still don't have anything substantive that would suggest anything more than what we know already, which is this was a lone attacker," St. Cloud Police Chief William Blair Anderson told CNN's Jake Tapper Sunday. "And right now, we're trying to get to the bottom of his motivations."

The FBI is calling the attack "a potential act of terrorism."

In response to local reports identifying the attacker as being of Somali descent, members of the Muslim and Somali communities held a news conference Sunday expressing their grief for the victims and calling for unity.

"We are also concerned about the potential backlash," said Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) chapter in Minnesota. "We understand in St. Cloud there is more anti-Muslim organizing and we hope they do not use this incident to divide ... our community."

Ahmed Said, executive director of the Somali American Relations Council, had previously disclosed that it was unclear if religion motivated the attack, "but we know he is Somali," theMinneapolis StarTribune quoted him as saying. Authorities have yet to confirm the attacker's ethnicity. CNN was also unable to confirm if he was Somali.

St. Cloud is home to one of Minnesota's larger immigrant Muslim communities and tensions with some members in the larger community have spiked at times, the StarTribune reported. The Minneapolis newspaper and the St. Cloud Times identified the attacker as a member of the Somali community.

In 2014, there was damage to mosques in St. Cloud and in 2013 the Muslim community in the city withdrew a bid to build a larger mosque because of tensions, the StarTribune reported.

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