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Annecy citizens gather in solidarity with knife attack victims and families

Roses lay at the playground after a knife attack Thursday, June 8, 2023 in Annecy, French Alps.
Roses lay at the playground after a knife attack Thursday, June 8, 2023 in Annecy, French Alps. Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Euronews
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Perpetrator remains in custody while police attempt to identify his motives

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The French town of Annecy, where several people were seriously injured in a horrific attack this weekend, is organising a "citizens' rally" in support of the victims of this weekend's knife attack.

Locals are set to gather at 11am on Sunday for a "moment of solidarity and fraternity" with those who were injured and their families.

"What happened is unthinkable, we just don't understand," said Laurence Gallay, a woman in her sixties who had come to light a candle and a stick of incense at the entrance to the playground where the attack took place.

Gallay, who has been visiting the superb park "for as long as I can remember", told AFP she will bring her son with her for the so-called "white march". 

A 2-year-old boy, who was stabbed in the stomach and chest, is still being treated in Grenoble after an emergency operation, as is a little girl of the same age, who is being treated for "three chest wounds".

A 3-year-old British tourist with a stab wound, meanwhile, will be able to leave Grenoble hospital "in the next few days", according to the magistrate, while a 22-month-old Dutch girl is still being treated in Geneva for three stab wounds.

A 73-year-old Portuguese walker, who was wounded by three stab wounds and then by police fire during the arrest, "was able to be interviewed by the investigators". The other adult, a 78-year-old Frenchman, suffered a more minor injury to his elbow and returned home very quickly, she said.

"We're thinking of you", says one of the messages placed among the flowers, cuddly toys and red heart-shaped balloons that are piling up in the children's playground where the attack took place.

Meanwhile, perpetrator Abdalmasih H. has been charged with "attempted murder" and remains in custody while the investigation tries to shed light on his actions.

Mystery knifeman

Since his arrest on Thursday, he has refused to make any statement explaining his rampage. Annecy prosecutor Line Bonnet told a press conference that the psychiatrist who examined him "noted the absence of any delusional elements", but added that it is still too early to make a full statement on his condition.

The magistrate added that the charge of "attempted murder" could result in a life sentence. Abdalmasih H. has also been charged with resisting arrest with a weapon.

According to the prosecutor, "No terrorist motivation appears at this stage." However, witnesses heard the attacker "pronounce the name of Jesus Christ" during the attack. He was wearing a cross around his neck, and two "Christian images", a Swedish driving licence and €480 in cash were found on his person.

Abdalmasih H. had recently separated from his Swedish wife, a Syrian refugee like himself, leaving behind his three-year-old child. He left Sweden in March 2022, after years of stability. He travelled legally through Italy and Switzerland last year before arriving in Annecy.

After fleeing his war-torn country via Turkey, Abdalmasih H. was granted asylum in Sweden and obtained a permanent residence permit at the end of 2013. But Swedish authorities say he had failed several times to obtain Swedish nationality since 2017 because of his involvement in the Syrian conflict.

"I didn't notice anything deviant about him, he seemed like a normal person," Moa Englund-Flodström, his former lawyer in Sweden, told AFP. According to Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, she briefly defended him for a minor welfare fraud offence.

Additional sources • AFP

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