Fri, 29 Sep 2023

A man stabbed four children and two adults at a lakeside park in the French alps Thursday morning in an attack that French President Emmanuel Macron said has shocked the country.

All four children suffered life-threatening knife wounds, lead prosecutor Line Bonnet-Mathis said. The youngest is 22 months old, two are 2 years old and the oldest is 3, the prosecutor said.

The attack occurred in the southeastern French town of Annecy.

Police quickly detained the suspect - a 31-year-old Syrian national. French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said the suspect has refugee status in Sweden.

"The nation is in shock," Macron tweeted. He described the assault as an "attack of absolute cowardice."

"Children and an adult are between life and death," the French president also said.

Video appearing to show the attack circulated on social media. In the video, a man in dark glasses with a blue scarf covering his head wielded a knife as people screamed for help.

One woman tried to fend off the attacker in the enclosed play park, but she couldn't stop him from leaning over her stroller and stabbing downward multiple times.

Two of the young victims were tourists. One is British, and the nationality of the other was not immediately disclosed.

Two adults also suffered knife wounds. One of the adults was also injured by a shot fired by police as they were arresting the suspect, Bonnet-Mathis said.

"As soon as I heard the sirens and saw police running, I knew something horrible was happening. I am in shock. It's a park where they take children out to walk," said Eleanor Vincent, an American author vacationing in Annecy.

"As a parent who has lost a child, I know what these parents are experiencing. It's a horror beyond belief," Vincent told The Associated Press.

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

The National Assembly president, Yaël Braun-Pivet, said, "There are some very young children who are in critical condition, and I invite you to respect a minute of silence for them, for their families, and so that, we hope, the consequences of this very grave attack do not lead to the nation grieving."

"Nothing more abominable than to attack children," Braun-Pivet said on Twitter.

Some information in this report came from Reuters and The Associated Press.

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