Authorities announced they were treating a mass stabbing at a Minnesota mall on Saturday as a "potential act of terrorism" as the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack Sunday. The FBI is investigating the attacker's background in an effort to pinpoint a possible motive for the attack and any links to terrorist organizations, Richard Thornton, a special agent from the FBI's Minneapolis bureau said Sunday.
"We will try to peel back the onion to find out what motivated this individual to commit the horrific act that he did," Yahoo reported Thornton said.
Nine people were injured in an attack that began at roughly 8:15 p.m. CT at Crossroads Center mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota, when a man in a private security uniform went on a stabbing rampage before being shot dead by an off-duty police officer, St. Cloud Police Chief William Blair Anderson said Sunday during a press conference. Initial reports claimed eight people had been injured in Saturday's attack, but St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis confirmed Sunday that a ninth person had transported himself to the hospital following the attack and was thus not included in the early count.
A 15-year-old girl and a 50-year-old woman are reportedly among the list of victims, which also includes seven men ranging from 20 to 53 years of age, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Although three people remain hospitalized, none have life-threatening injuries, CNBC reported.
A news agency associated with the Islamic State hailed the man behind Saturday's mall stabbing as "a soldier of the Islamic State," claiming he'd "carried out the operation in response to calls to target the citizens of countries belonging to the crusader coalition," in a statement released Sunday, according to the Independent. However, the claim has not been verified and the militant group has issued similar statements in the past following incidents they were found to have no direct ties to.
Anderson was reportedly hesitant to initially define the incident as a terrorist act when speaking to reporters late Saturday, saying there was not enough information at that time to determine that, according to the Star Tribune.
Crossroads Center mall remained closed Sunday "out of respect to the victims, their families, and the ongoing investigation," according to a statement from General Growth Properties, which operates the mall. "We are devastated by the events that happened at Crossroads Center," a spokesman for the group said in the statement.