As many as two dozen people were killed in a deadly bombing at a mosque in Minneapolis that authorities say was intended to attack police and Islamic institutions.
The Islamic Society of St. Paul, which houses about 40 people, said on Saturday that it was investigating the incident as an act of terrorism.
It was the first confirmed attack at a Minnesota mosque in decades.
Witnesses said the bomber detonated an explosive vest inside the mosque, then detonated a remote-controlled device near the mosque entrance.
“He was aiming to kill as many people as he could,” said Margo Ojeda, a friend of one of the wounded, who was shot in the leg.
“I was trying to keep my eyes open.”
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating the attack, and authorities said they were still trying to determine whether the attacker acted alone or if he was part of a network.
Mennonite Church in Minneapolis was among the first buildings to be evacuated on Saturday.
Authorities were asking people in the Twin Cities to remain indoors until the FBI finishes its investigation.
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said Saturday that the Islamic Society would offer a special prayer for the victims.
Aftermath: Police officers and first responders arrive at the site of a bombing at the Minnesota Islamic Society in Minneapolis, Minn., Saturday, May 20, 2020.
Minneapolis police Sgt. Jeff Schmitt said authorities had no information that a second attack was planned.
Police in Minneapolis have said they have identified the attacker and have begun an investigation.
The attack came just days after a bomb at a suburban Minnesota mall killed nine people and injured more than 50.
The incident also targeted the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
In recent weeks, Minnesota has seen more attacks, including a mass shooting at a gay bar in St. Cloud and a shooting at an Islamic center in St Cloud that killed five people and wounded more than 20.
Minnesota police said Saturday they had arrested an individual who has been charged in connection with the attack.
A person is arrested after an active shooter incident at the Minneapolis mosque in Minnesota, Saturday, July 21, 2020, in St Paul, Minns.
More than 100 people were wounded in a bombing Saturday at a Minneapolis mosque that authorities said was intended by an Islamic extremist group to attack law enforcement and Islamic organizations.
Members of the mosque’s Muslim community react to the blast as police officers and police officers arrive at a site of the bombing at an Mennonite church in Minneapolis.
Officers at the scene, which was sealed off to the public after a massive police response, said there were multiple casualties in the attack but did not provide further details.
An armed law enforcement officer holds a firearm while police and paramedics respond to a scene after a bombing incident at a Mennotexto a Minneapolis, Minnesota, mosque, Saturday.
A bomb-squad member of Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) carries a stretcher after an explosion at a building belonging to the Minneapolis Islamic Society, Saturday in St Louis, Missouri.
According to the FBI, the group was “a small but vocal, active-shooter network that targets police and other government institutions and officials, including the U.S. military, the military, military contractors, and law enforcement agencies.”
The group’s leaders have expressed admiration for Islamic State, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and the Islamic Nation of Islam, according to FBI.
The Islamic Society said in a statement Saturday that “our immediate concern is for our community.”
More: Witness Michael Stansberry, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota, said the explosion left people scattered and panicked.
Stansberry said the blast could have been a more coordinated attack.
“You’d be able to do it with one, two or three people,” he said.
On Saturday, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodgges described the bombing as “an act of terror.”
“I’m so sorry that this happened, and I’m so glad that the police were able to respond and bring these people to safety,” she said.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that authorities had closed off the area around the mosque for at least an hour, and that an explosive device was found near the entrance.
Police also used water cannon to disperse the crowd, but it was unclear if the bomb was connected to Saturday’s blast.
One of the injured, Mohamed El-Sayed, a University of St Andrews student, was transported to a nearby hospital after he was wounded in the blast, the Star Tribune said.
His condition was not immediately available.
Hodges said police would continue to monitor the situation and asked that anyone with information about the attack call the Minneapolis Police Bureau at 651-266-5500.
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