British child among four severely injured after French playground knife attack

Friday, Jun 09, 2023

PARIS/LONDON: A British child was among four very young children who were critically injured after being stabbed in a lakeside park in the French Alps.Two adults were also wounded when the suspect, identified by police as 31-year-old Syrian, attacked people with a knife in the town of Annecy on Thursday.He stabbed a child in a pushchair repeatedly as bystanders screamed for help.

The children, aged between 22 months and three years, are in a “very severe state” and are in intensive care, according to a local prosecutor.The knifeman’s motives remain unclear but do not appear to be related to terrorism, Line Bonnet-Mathis told a press conference.Foreign Secretary James Cleverly confirmed that one of the children injured was a British national.France is in shock but is “standing firm” after the horrific attack, French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said. The attacker was a Syrian national who has refugee status in Sweden, she said. He has no criminal or psychiatric record.

“We are talking here about infants, very young infants who have been very seriously injured,” she told the press conference, according to a translation.“We are absolutely shaken by all this and we are standing firm by the people of Annecy.”Mr Cleverly, speaking at an OECD ministerial council press conference in France hours after the attack, said: “We have already deployed British consular officials who are travelling to the area to make themselves available to support the family.

“And of course we stand in strong solidarity with the people of France at this terrible time.” Police overpowered and arrested the assailant, who is detained in the Annecy police station. Video on social media appeared to show the attack in a children’s play park.Footage showed a man in dark glasses and with a blue scarf covering his head brandishing a blade as people screamed for help.He first circled the playground, slashing at a bystander, and then climbed over its barriers to attack people inside.French President Emmanuel Macron described the attack as one of “absolute cowardice”. Of the victims, he said “children and an adult are between life and death”. “The nation is in shock,” he tweeted.Prime Minister Rishi Sunak tweeted: “My thoughts are with all of those affected by the shocking attack in Annecy this morning.Calling it a “truly cowardly act”, he said: “The UK and France have always stood together against acts of violence, and we do so again today.”