Thomas Brooke, Remix, June 8, 2023
At least nine people, including seven very young children and two adults, were injured in a knife attack on Thursday morning in a park in the alpine town of Annecy in southeastern France.
French police arrested one individual, identified as Abdalmasih H., in connection with the attack who is believed to be a Syrian asylum seeker and previously unknown to the authorities, according to a police source cited by Agence France-Presse.
French newspaper Le Figaro reported that the children were aged about three years old and at least two were in critical condition.
A video released of the stabbing shows the man running back and forth on the playground and stabbing a small child inside its stroller while the mother tries to protect it. Another bystander sttampts to stop the attack multiple times.
According to a witness, the attack took place near Lake Annecy near a location with paddle boats, recreation activities, and a playground. The witnesses, Ferdinand, told BFMTV that the assailant “jumped” at the children and “he started screaming, he walked towards the strollers and started repeatedly stabbing the little ones.”
The witness said he saw “children and a mother on the ground.”
“When he saw that he was surrounded by the police, he went to a couple and he stabbed the elderly person,” said Ferdinand.
“He went straight for a grandpa who was with his wife and he stabbed him,” said another witness, Anthony. “I was telling (the police) to shoot him, to shoot him. (…) They immobilized him.”
Little is known about the nature of the attack; however, police have cordoned off the area and are conducting investigations.
French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin tweeted: “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.”
The number of victims has since been revised by French news outlets.
National Rally parliamentary leader Marine Le Pen added: “It is with fear and horror that we learn of the attack on young children in Annecy by an individual armed with a knife. My thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones.”
It is understood Darmanin will travel to Annecy with French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne later on Thursday, and the French National Assembly observed a minute’s silence ahead of its morning session.
Conservative commentator Eva Vlaadringerbroek placed the blame for the incident on Europe’s open borders policy and commitment to mass immigration.
Annecy public prosecutor Line Bonnet is expected to conduct a press briefing at 12:30 p.m. local time.
A source close to the investigation told Le Figaro the suspect is a 32-year-old Syrian national named Abdalmasih. He submitted an asylum application in France on Nov. 28, 2022, and was granted refugee status in Sweden in April this year.
It is not yet known when he initially arrived in France or why he returned to the country following a successful asylum application in the Scandinavian country
The investigation is ongoing.