The Islamic State jihadist group on Saturday claimed responsibility after a man stabbed seven people on the street in a Russian city before being shot dead by police, despite investigators saying it was probably not a terrorist attack.
“The executor of the stabbing operation in the city of Surgut in Russia is a soldier of the Islamic State,” IS propaganda outlet Amaq said in a statement, after the jihadists also claimed responsibility for twin attacks in Spain that left 14 dead.
The attack also comes a day after a stabbing spree in Finland, which left two people dead and eight others injured and is being investigated as a terrorist attack, although the assailant’s motive is unknown.
Russia’s Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, said a man in Surgut had “carried out attacks on passers-by, causing stab wounds”. It said armed police called to the scene “liquidated” the attacker following the stabbing on Saturday morning.
Regional officials said seven people were taken to hospital, with the figure confirmed by investigators, who lowered an earlier toll of eight wounded.
A spokesman for regional police had earlier downplayed the possibility of a terrorist incident, telling Interfax news agency that the theory that the incident was “a terrorist (attack) is not the main one”.
The Investigative Committee said it had established the attacker’s identity, saying he was a local resident born in 1994, and that they were looking into “his possible psychiatric disorders”.
Opposition leader Alexei Navalny questioned the authorities’ treatment of the incident, writing on Twitter: “Someone runs round with a knife and tries to kill as many people as possible. What is that, if not a terrorist attack?”
Investigators have opened a criminal probe into attempted murder, not terrorism, with the Investigative Committee’s chief Alexander Bastrykin taking the case under his personal control.
Regional police said officers fired warning shots at the scene before firing at the suspect, who was wearing a balaclava.
YouTube footage shown on Russia’s Ren TV television showed a black-clad man lying on a pedestrian walkway with a policeman kneeling on his back as sirens wail.