A syrian refugee armed with a knife spread terror this Thursday in a park of Annecyin the French Alps, where he injured six people, including four children between 22 and 36 monthsbefore being arrested.
This “absolutely cowardly attack” that left “several children and an adult between life and death”, in the words of the French president, Emmanuel Macronshocked France and generated demonstrations of solidarity in Europe.
The aggressor, AbdalmasihH., was a Syrian refugee who had obtained protection in Sweden in 2013, where he lived for 10 years, and who moved to France at the end of 2022, where he applied for asylum in November, according to various sources.
The justice opened an investigation for assassination attempts, ruling out for now the “terrorist motive,” said the Annecy prosecutor, Line Bonnet-Mathis, specifying that the attacker did not act under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The French Prime Minister, Élisabeth Borne, who traveled to this tourist city of about 140,000 inhabitants in the Alps, also assured that the man had no known judicial or psychiatric history.
In France, he was in a legal situation. Her ex-partner in Sweden, with whom he had a three-year-old daughter, assured AFP that she left because she did not obtain Swedish nationality and that four months ago she told him that she lived “in a church” in France. .
Terrorist attack in France, Annecy: Four children and two adults injured with a knife at the hands of a terrorist named Abdalmasih H., 31 years old.
The terrible events took place in a park in the alpine town of Annecy, and the injured children have only + pic.twitter.com/bxekUWS3iU
— (@Bad_LilithWxxD) June 8, 2023
The attacker’s mother, who has lived in the United States for ten years, said she was in “shock.” According to her, her son “suffered from severe depression.”
He did not tell me anything. It was my daughter-in-law who told me,” she specified. “She said he was never well, he was always depressed, with black ideas, he didn’t want to leave the house, he didn’t want to work…”, she said.
The attacker said “in the name of Jesus Christ” in English when he attacked, according to a video consulted by AFP. When he was arrested, he was wearing a cross and, in his asylum application file, he declared himself a “Christian from Syria,” a police source said.
The Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, declared to the TF1 chain that “for reasons not yet fully clarified, he also sought asylum in Switzerland, Italy and France.”
He went on to describe the denial of that request and the stabbings as a “worrying coincidence.”
The minister also explained that on Friday morning the attacker must undergo a psychiatric examination.
Four minors in critical condition
The attack took place around 9:30 am (0730 GMT) in the gardens of Europe, a popular park on the shores of Lake Annecy.
The attacker, dressed in black with a knotted headscarf, walked towards the strollers and attacked children in a play area, according to footage from the drama.
Several witnesses indicated that he then tried to flee, injuring a man in his path, before being quickly stopped by police, who fired.
He wanted to attack everyone. I stepped away and he pounced on a grandfather and a grandmother, and he stabbed their grandfather,” Anthony Le Tallec, a former Saint Etienne and Liverpool footballer, told the regional newspaper Le Dauphiné libéré.
Six people were injured, including the four children who are in critical condition as well as one adult, according to the Annecy prosecutor.
The four babies, including a Dutch and a British, were transferred to Geneva (Switzerland) and Grenoble after initial care on the spot.
Their state of health is extremely fragile, they are still in an absolute emergency,” said prosecutor Bonnet-Mathis, who stressed that the attacker had targeted “the vital parts”.
An adult was hospitalized after being attacked by the assailant and then shot by police while in custody. Another adult was more lightly injured, he added.
In the afternoon, the authorities allowed access to the park again. Several children were playing in the same area where the attack took place, which disrupted life in this quiet city.
My 17 year old son witnessed it. A person brandished a knife and stabbed a baby in her stroller (…) Then she saw a crowd, screams, blood, “said a mother who went to look for her son at the prefecture.
Its inhuman. I heard the screams of the parents and saw the attacker with the knife (…) I told myself that if I ran, he was going to die, so I walked away, “said Clémence, a 17-year-old student.
From the left to the extreme right, political leaders condemned the attack and expressed their solidarity with the victims and their families. The National Assembly observed a minute of silence.
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In a context of political tension over a future immigration reform, the right-wing and extreme-right parties called for a tightening of this policy to curb “mass immigration.”
With information from AFP