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Mall stabbings ‘potential terror act’

People stand near the entrance on the north side of Crossroads Center shopping mall in St Cloud where the knife attack took place. Picture: Dave Schwarz/AP

A STABBING rampage at a US mall in which nine people were hurt is being investigated as a potential act of terrorism, authorities said.

Dahir A. Adan, 22, dressed as a private security guard before attacking shoppers with a kitchen knife at the Crossroads Center mall in St Cloud, Minnesota.

The Somali-American was said to be a “soldier of the Islamic state”, according to an ISIS-linked news agency.

Dahir A. Adan was born in Africa but had lived in the US for 15 years. Picture: AFP

Dahir A. Adan was born in Africa but had lived in the US for 15 years. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

The city’s police chief said Adan reportedly made at least one reference to Allah and asked a victim if he or she was Muslim before attacking.

The rampage ended when he was shot dead by an off-duty police officer. None of the injured suffered life-threatening wounds.

The motive of the Saturday attack is still unclear, but FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Rick Thornton said on Sunday that the stabbings were being investigated as a “potential act of terrorism”.

Authorities were digging into the attacker’s background and possible motives, looking at social media accounts, his electronic devices and talking to his associates, Agent Thornton said.

Off-duty police officer Jason Falconer shot and killed Dahir A. Adan. Picture: Avon Police Department/St Cloud Times via AP

Off-duty police officer Jason Falconer shot and killed Dahir A. Adan. Picture: Avon Police Department/St Cloud Times via APSource:AP

His father, Ahmed Adan, told the Minnesota Star Tribune that he had “no suspicion” of his son being involved in any terrorist activity.

He said his son was born in Kenya but grew up in the United States. Other family members said he was beginning his third year as a student at St Cloud State University.

Police told him about 9pm on Saturday that his son had died at the mall, he said.

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton planned to travel to St Cloud to meet with the city’s mayor and other local officials on Monday morning to discuss the case.

It doesn’t appear anyone else was involved in the attack, which began at around 8pm local time and was over within minutes, Police Chief Blair Anderson said.

Leaders of the Somali community in central Minnesota united Sunday to condemn the stabbings. They said the suspect does not represent them, and they expressed fear about a backlash.

Minnesota has the nation’s largest Somali community, with census numbers placing the population at about 40,000 but community activists saying it’s even higher.

The Crossroads Center mall reopened on Monday. Picture: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images/AFP

The Crossroads Center mall reopened on Monday. Picture: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images/AFPSource:AFP

The community has been a target for terror recruiters in recent years. More than 20 young men have left the state since 2007 to join al-Shabab in Somalia; the US considers the eastern Africa militants group a terrorist group. Roughly a dozen people have left in recent years to join militants in Syria. In addition, nine Minnesota men face sentencing on terror charges for plotting to join the Islamic State group.

The attack in St Cloud, a city of about 65,000 people, began shortly after an explosion in a crowded New York City neighbourhood injured 29 people. A suspicious device was found a few blocks away and safely removed. Hours before that, a pipe bomb exploded in Seaside Park, New Jersey, shortly before thousands of runners were due to participate in a charity 5K race. Ahmad Khan Rahami, the suspect in those attacks, was arrested on Monday after a shootout with police.

The man who allegedly attacked nine people with a knife in a mall in Minnesota on Saturday night was identified as Somali-American, and a media outlet aligned with Islamic State has claimed him as a ?soldier?. Photo: Associated Press