France was shaken on Thursday morning by a knife attack by a Syrian refugee on at least four young boys, who are in serious condition, and a grandfather, near his school in Annecy, opposite Switzerland. The anti-terrorism prosecutor's office is analyzing the case to decide whether or not it is a terrorist attack.
Four children were seriously injured and three of them are "in absolute emergency". It was 9:45 a.m. when the attack occurred in the park.
In a park in Annecy
In a park near Lake Annecy, one of France's most touristic spots, the attacker used a knife and was detained by police at the scene. He was dressed in green and with a bandana on his head.
Lake Annecy, in France, a peaceful and touristic place. Photo: AP
The profile of the suspect becomes clearer. The detained man, Abdalmasih H., is a 45-year-old Syrian national and had applied for asylum in France in November.
In April, he was granted refugee status in Sweden, a police source said. He is not known to the police.
The alleged perpetrator has been arrested, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin announced.
The 31-year-old Syrian national had submitted his asylum application to Ofpra on 28 November 2022. In the meantime, he had obtained refugee status in Sweden by decision of 26 April 2023.
Antoine Armand, the representative of the Savoy region in the Alps, speaks to the media about the attack. Photo: AP
The anti-terrorist sub-directorate (SDAT) of the judicial police was summoned.
"Attack of absolute cowardice this morning in a park in Annecy. Children and an adult are between life and death. The nation is in shock. Our thoughts are with them, their families and the mobilized rescue services," Emmanuel Macron reacted on Twitter.
When France is due to decide to debate the pension reform in the National Assembly on Thursday, a minute's silence was held in the Chamber.
The mayor of Annecy gave the alert to the country. "Atrocious attack this morning in the Park in Annecy. All my thoughts to the victims and families," Annecy Mayor François Astorg wrote on Twitter.
He was due to speak at 12.30 p.m. local time with the Prefect of Haute-Savoie and the Public Prosecutor of Annecy.
"We ask you to avoid the sector for the proper functioning of operations," he added.
Anthony saw the attack
While jogging by the lake, Anthony witnessed part of the attack.
"It went straight to Grandpa," he said. I realized it wasn't a game. Moms ran with the strollers desperately. A mom told me, "Go there." There is someone trying to stab a grandfather. I saw it. He was with his wife. He was the first adult to stab. Grandpa fell on the floor. A policeman shot the assailant. He tried to stab again. The forces of order immobilized him."
"The attacker didn't say a word. He had attacked children before. I didn't see that attack," he said.
Annecy entered a state of absolute security with a population terrified and frightened by the fact.
Numerous political figures denounce the "horror" of what they consider an attack.
The reactions of political figures are linked on Twitter. RN MP Marine Le Pen directs her "thoughts" to the victims and their loved ones.
"How can we attack children? There are no words to describe such horror...," said PCF national secretary Fabien Roussel.
"Thanks to the intervention and rescue forces," wrote LFI deputy François Ruffin.
"Attacking the little guys! Hit them with a knife! Our heart is shattered by having to live it," said Jean Luc Melenchon, of France Insoumise, to whom he conveyed his "afflicted compassion" to the parents.
President Emmanuel Macron "of course follows the situation," the Elysee said.
Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne and Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin travelled to Annecy.
The president of the Republicans, Eric Ciottin, declared his "tremendous emotion" and his "great fury" after the events of this morning in Annecy.
"All my support to the families and the victims," he also said.
'Words fail.' The head of the LFI deputies, Mathilde Panot, expresses her "horror" and "fear" following the knife attack that injured young children in Annecy on Thursday.
"Horrified by this knife attack in Annecy. All my thoughts are with the children and their families," said LFI MP Manuel Bompard.