A man with a Syrian identity card was arrested by police after he injured several children as young as three
Several small children were among the victims of a gruesome knife attack on a playground in the alpine town of Annecy in southeastern France on Thursday morning, the French authorities have reported.
"Several people including children were injured by an individual armed with a knife in a square in Annecy. The individual was arrested thanks to the very rapid intervention of the police," France's minister of the interior, Gerald Darmanin, stated in a Tweet.
"The situation is under control, there is no longer any danger" reassured the mayor of Annecy, Francois Astorg.
Many other high-profile officials have since condemned the attack and expressed solidarity with the families of the victims. French President Emmanuel Macron described the incident as an "attack of absolute cowardice."
While no official details about the arrest or the exact number of people injured have been published, local media reports, citing sources within the police, have suggested that as many as four children around the age of three were injured in the attack, as well as two adults. Three of the kids are believed to be in critical condition at a nearby hospital.
According to BFMTV, a police source has revealed that the attacker has been identified as Abdalmasih H. - a 32-year-old Syrian national who is believed to have entered France legally after applying for asylum last November. The police source said the man had since obtained refugee status in Sweden.
Witnesses told Le Dauphine that the man started attacking a group of young children while they were playing at a playground. "We saw a person attacking children playing games, small ones, obviously that was his target. After people tried to scare him, he walked away and the police intervened." a witness said. "He spoke English. At the beginning, we all thought it was staged, but with the cries of people, we realize that it's reality" the witness added.
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French media have also shared a video allegedly shot by a high school student at the park that purports to show the man wearing sunglasses and a turban with a knife in his hands shortly before he was arrested by police.