Syrian asylum seeker stabs multiple children in France

Thursday, June 8th, 2023 18:15 | By
The Syrian attacker was filmed running after stabbing kids in a park. Photo/Screengrab

Four very young children have been stabbed in a park near Lake Annecy, in France's south-east.

Police overpowered and arrested the attacker, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said.

Reports say the children were aged about three years old and at least two were in critical condition.

UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said that one of the injured children was a British national. One of the other children is reportedly Dutch.

Regional deputy Antoine Armand described the attack as "abominable" and said authorities were investigating but knew "very little".

He added his thoughts were with the victims and their loved ones.

Video footage of the attack uploaded to social media - too graphic for broadcast - shows a little playground, with life going on as normal - children running around, and their parents and minders there.

Then a man comes in with a knife and very quickly, there are screams. He's clearly looking for children to attack - and he attacks one in a pushchair.

In part of the video, life is going on as normal, and in another part, there's a man wandering around with a knife. You can see he is actively looking for children.

French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne and Mr Darmanin went to the scene of the attack.

Ms Borne told a news conference that four children and two adults were injured, with some of them in intensive care.

The attacker is a "Syrian national with refugee status in Sweden", she said, adding that he had applied for asylum in France but this was "overridden by the Swedish one which dates from 10 years back".

He has "no criminal or psychiatric record" and has a child "aged around the same age as those he attacked", she said.

Annecy prosecutor Line Bonnet-Mathis told reporters that the victims included one who is 22 months old and one who is three years old, adding that the children were in a "severe state".

One of the children is Dutch, she said.

She said there "doesn't seem to be any kind of terrorist motivation".

Local officials earlier said six children were injured in the attack, but authorities later confirmed six people in total had been hurt, including four children.

Police have confirmed that the suspect is a 31-year-old Syrian, who had refugee status in Sweden.

He is said to have attacked the children - some in pushchairs - as they visited the park, before fleeing the scene and stabbing an elderly man nearby.

Police intervened and the perpetrator was shot in the legs.

France's National Assembly has observed a minute of silence and roads are blocked around the scene of the attack.

President Emmanuel Macron tweeted that the nation was in "shock" over the "act of cowardice".

Mr Cleverly said that British consular officials were travelling to the area "to support the family" of the injured child.

"We stand in strong solidarity with the people of France at this terrible time," he said at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris.

Former Liverpool football player Anthony le Tallec was on a run in the town at the time of the attack. He said he heard people yelling "Run! Run!" and watched as the police chased the alleged attacker down after attacking an elderly man.

He said he then continued his run along the lake, where he saw the injured children on the ground.

"It's crazy to have this in Annecy," he said.

He also claimed there was a delay before the police shot the man with the knife.

Another woman, Eleanor Vincent, told the BBC she "knew something horrible had happened" as she approached the lake.

"People were going about their business or on their holiday, as I was, and it's just shocking. I have no other way of describing it."

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