Four children and one adult were attacked by a man with a knife at a playground in Annecy.
A man attacked a group of 2- to 3-year-old children with a knife on Thursday morning at a playground on the banks of the lake in Annecy, in the Savoie region of eastern France. He fatally injured four small children and one adult before a police patrol stationed not far from the scene of the crime could intervene. The four children are now in stable condition, police said.
The officers arrested the attacker, who was slightly injured by a shot during the intervention. The second adult person was also hit by the police, but not critically injured. Two of the children and one adult were fighting for survival at the end of the afternoon in the hospital at the emergency department in Annecy and Geneva. Among those attacked were children of tourists from the Netherlands and Great Britain.
The motives for this terrible attack were still unclear. However, as she has already announced, the responsible prosecutor in Annecy sees “no terrorist motive”. The identity of the perpetrator is known. According to the papers he was carrying, he is 31 years old and of Syrian nationality. It is said that he is married to a Swede and himself the father of a 3-year-old child in Sweden.
A Syrian who is recognized as a refugee in Sweden
After arriving in France in October 2022, he applied for asylum, although he had already been recognized as a refugee in Sweden 10 years earlier. He is therefore legally resident in the EU. Since he had already received a positive decision in Sweden, the procedure for applying for asylum in France has been discontinued.
He spoke English when he was arrested. According to information from police circles, the alleged perpetrator describes himself as a “Christian from Syria”: he carried a cross during his knife attack and had a Christian prayer book with him. So far, the authorities have not noticed him in any way and he was not known for any psychiatric problems or was being treated.
At first, different and sometimes contradictory versions of the course of the attack circulated. A video broadcast on the news channel LCI shows a scene before the arrest: the alleged perpetrator, a bearded man with dark sunglasses, wearing a Bedouin-style headscarf and threatening with a knife in his right hand, runs across the lawn . He is being followed by a young man (in civilian clothes) who wants to intervene, using a backpack as a shield. Apparently the Syrians specifically attacked the small children.
On the same television channel LCI, an eyewitness, ex-soccer player Anthony Le Tallec, claims that while jogging by the lake, he suddenly noticed people fleeing, and a woman told him: “Warning, a guy wants to kill everyone with a knife!” He then saw himself how he attacked a “grandfather” and threatened other people.
Mothers would have screamed and stood protectively in front of their children, other people would have tried to intervene. He called out to the rushing police officers: “Shoot him!” But they had hesitated “for a long time”. This claim was denied by a spokesman for the police union, who said the police had arrived at the scene four minutes after the initial attack. Other witnesses said they had seen the suspect in the days before sitting on a bench near the playground. They took him for an “SDF”, a homeless person.
Macron: “Absolute cowardice”
Several people including children were injured by an individual armed with a knife in a square in Annecy. The individual was arrested thanks to the very rapid intervention of the police.
— Gérald DARMANIN (@GDarmanin) June 8, 2023
France was deeply shocked by this unspeakable bloody deed. In the National Assembly, the debate was interrupted for a minute’s silence, all political groups expressed their concern and expressed their solidarity with the families of the children in Annecy. President Emmanuel Macron condemned the act as “absolute cowardice”. Since the arrested person is a Syrian refugee, polemics about migration policy were not long in coming.
Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne and Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin arrived in Annecy in the early afternoon. At a media conference on Thursday afternoon, Borne warned not to speculate or exploit the attack. Instead, one should wait for the results of the investigation and the questioning of the perpetrator.
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