9th June 2023 – (Paris) A knife attack in the quiet French mountain town of Annecy left four toddlers and two pensioners wounded on Thursday, and the government has identified the suspected assailant as a Syrian refugee.
A video of the attack, which was verified by Reuters, shows the attacker jumping over a low wall into a children’s playground and repeatedly targeting a child in a stroller. A woman tries to fend him off, but he persists in his attack.
Two of the wounded children and one adult were in critical condition in the hospital, while the other victims were less severely injured.
Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne stated that the suspected attacker, who is now in police custody, is a 31-year-old Syrian national who was granted asylum in Sweden ten years ago. He entered France legally and was carrying Swedish identity documents and a Swedish driving license.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin revealed that France had rejected an asylum request made by the suspect earlier this month and that he had been carrying “certain Christian religious insignia.”
The local prosecutor leading the investigation stated that there was no indication that terrorism was the assailant’s motivation, and the suspect was under investigation for attempted murder.
The four children who were wounded in the attack were all toddlers aged between 22 months and three years, according to Annecy prosecutor Line Bonnet-Mathis. One of the toddlers was a British national, and another was Dutch, she added.
As the attacker, who was wearing a blue-checked headscarf and sunglasses, continued to slash at his victims, one bystander attempted to stop him by throwing his backpack at him, as shown in the video.
French news agency AFP reported that the assailant was carrying a prayer book when he launched his attack, and the suspect’s ex-wife stated that he was a Christian.
“He has not called me for four months. (Our relationship) stopped because we lived in Sweden, and he did not want to live in Sweden anymore,” she told BFM TV, adding that he had not previously exhibited violent tendencies.
The police have not released the suspect’s name to the public.