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France knife attack leaves six people injured, including young children

FILE: Parque de l'Europe, Annecy, France
FILE: Parque de l'Europe, Annecy, France Copyright AFP
Copyright AFP
By Euronews with AFP, AP
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Police say the attacker was arrested, and his identity papers showed he's a Syrian national who holds refugee status in Sweden.

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At least six people, including four children, have been injured after a knife attack in the southeast French town of Annecy, near the border with Switzerland. 

Two of the children and an adult have "life threatening injuries," according to officials. One of the children is a British national.  

Police arrested the attacker after shooting him in the legs near the scene of the attack. 

The man was not previously known to local authorities, but police say was born in Syria in 1991, and had been granted refugee status in Sweden, where he had lived for 10 years. He entered France legally, and lodged a second asylum application in November 2022.

Police say they are still assessing whether the attack had a terrorist motive or not. 

President Emmanuel Macron denounced the incident as an "attack of absolute cowardice". 

"The nation is in shock," Macron wrote on Twitter, adding: "our thoughts are with them as well as their families and the rescue services mobilised." 

In Paris, lawmakers interrupted a debate to hold a moment of silence for the victims.

Speaking on behalf of the government, Gabriel Attal, the French Minister for Public Accounts, denounced "barbaric acts" from the Palais-Bourbon.

"The horror has taken on its full meaning. How can children be attacked with such cruelty? The heart of the Republic has been touched", said Gérard Larcher, President of the French Senate, on Twitter.

Euronews
Map showing the town of Annecy, FranceEuronews

The attack happened in a park on the shores of Lake Annecy, "in a playground with boats, pedalos and countless tourists," an eyewitness is quoted as saying.  

The assailant "jumped out", "started shouting, went towards the pushchairs and started repeatedly stabbing the children", another witness said.

One man said he saw "children and a mother on the ground". "When he [the attacker] saw that he was surrounded by police officers, he went towards a couple and stabbed the elderly woman." 

Jean-Christophe Bott/' KEYSTONE / JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BOTT
Security forces gather at the scene of knife attack in Annecy, French Alps, Thursday, June 8, 2023.Jean-Christophe Bott/' KEYSTONE / JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BOTT

According to various accounts, the man tried to flee the playground and attacked an elderly person before being quickly apprehended by the police. Emergency services were alerted at 9.41am, and the attacker was taken into custody four minutes later, according to a timeline released by the police.

"He wanted to attack everyone. I got out of the way and he ran straight into a grandpa and a granny, and stabbed the grandpa," former Saint-Etienne and Liverpool player Anthony Le Tallec told Le Dauphiné Libéré.

"It was total panic," said the sportsman, who was jogging by the lake.

Annecy Mayor François Astorg told Le Monde newspaper that the situation is under control, and there is no longer any danger.

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