ANNECY: A Syrian refugee armed with a knife stabbed four preschool children and injured two adults by a lake in the French Alps on Thursday in an attack whose motive remains unclear.
The youngest victim in the quiet town of Annecy was just 22 months old and investigators are trying to understand the reasons for the frenzied morning rampage in a sunny public park.
The attacker, dressed in black and carrying a blade around 10 centimetres (four inches) long, could be heard shouting “in the name of Jesus Christ” on a video taken by a bystander.
“There’s no obvious terrorist motive,” local prosecutor Line Bonnet-Mathis told reporters at a press conference alongside Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, who rushed to the lakeside town around 30 kilometres south of the Swiss city of Geneva.
Borne said the suspect was “not known by any intelligence service” and did not have “any history of psychiatric problems”. Recently divorced and in his early 30s, he had previously lived for 10 years in Sweden where he was granted refugee status in April, security sources and his ex-wife said.
“He called me around four months ago. He was living in a church,” his ex-wife said on condition of anonymity, saying he had left Sweden because he had been unable to get Swedish nationality. Witnesses described him running around the park on the banks of Lake Annecy wearing a bandana and sunglasses, apparently attacking people at random. Armed police arrested him at the scene.
“He wanted to attack everyone. I moved away and he lunged at an old man and woman and stabbed the old man,” former professional footballer Anthony Le Tallec, who was running in the park, told the local Dauphine Libere newspaper. All four child victims, which include British and German boys, are in a critical state in a local hospital.
Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2023