A Syrian asylum seeker has reportedly been arrested on suspicion of stabbing four children and an adult in a park in the French town of Annecy.
A knife-wielding man attacked a group of children aged around three at 9.45 a.m. Thursday in a park near the city’s lake, a security source who requested anonymity told AFP. a local official.
Two children and an adult are said to be in critical condition.
Police said four children and one adult were injured in total. Six children were initially thought to have been stabbed.
The suspect told police he was a Syrian asylum seeker, a police source told AFP. His identity has not been verified.
The attacker is not known to the security services, a police source told the agency.
French Prime Minister Elizabeth Borne said she was going to the scene of the stabbings.
A press conference is due to take place at 11.30am BST.
Follow below for more updates.
Anthony Le Tallec witnessing the consequences
Anthony Le Tallec, the former Liverpool footballer, witnessed the aftermath of the horrific attack while jogging in the park.
Mr Le Tallec, now coach of FC Annecy, said he was running by a lake when he “saw about ten people running in the opposite direction”.
“I asked them what was going on and someone said to me, run, run, there’s someone stabbing people,” said the former striker, who was also on loan at Sunderland.
“I saw the guy in front of me, chased by cops five or ten meters behind him, trying to catch up with him.” he wrote on Instagram.
“I saw children at the end of the lake, children on the ground. Injured children, it’s horrible.
“This act cannot go unpunished”
Elisbeth Borne, the French prime minister, and Gérald Darmanin, the interior minister, arrived at the scene and are expected to make statements on Thursday afternoon.
Charlotte Caubel, Minister for Children, said: “Once again, our children are the targets of an increase in violence in our society. This act cannot go unpunished. »
Witnesses describe the attack
Witnesses who were on the scene at the time of the attack described how it unfolded.
Ferdinand, a witness, told BFMTV that a man with a knife “jumped up”, “started screaming, walked towards the strollers and started stabbing the children repeatedly”.
Anthony, another witness, said the attack took place in a playground where there are “boats, pedal boats and countless tourists”.
He said the knife stabbed an elderly man after he saw he was surrounded by police.
“I was telling (the police) to shoot him,” Anthony said.
Press conference soon
François Astorg, the mayor of Annecy, declared: “The situation is under control, there is no longer any danger”.
He confirmed that there will be a press conference at 11.30am BST.
The National Assembly holds a minute of silence
The French National Assembly observed Thursday a minute of silence in tribute to the victims.
“Fear and horror”: Marine Le Pen
Marine Le Pen, whom Mr Macron beat last year to win a second term as president, said he learned of the attack with “fear and horror”.
She said: “It is with fear and horror that we learn of the attack on young children in Annecy by an individual armed with a knife. My thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones. »
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of the hard left, who came third in the presidential elections, said: “Our hearts are torn to shreds to have to go through this.”
“How is this possible? Attack on children! Hit them with a knife! he told the National Assembly.
“Now quiet” scene
Fanny, a witness in the park, told BFMTV that calm had been restored to the scene.
“This is Annecy’s best-known park. This is where all the activities take place and where all the young people from Annecy meet. It is a very peaceful place and I have never heard of an attack. It’s amazing,” she said.
Macron denounces the stabbings
President Emmanuel Macron denounced “an act of absolute cowardice in a park in Annecy”.
He said in a post on Twitter: “Children and an adult are fighting for their lives. The nation is in shock. Our hearts go out to them, their families and the emergency services on site.
Where did the attack take place?
The attack took place in the town of Annecy in the French Alps.
Pictured: Emergency services at the scene
French soldiers and police cordoned off the scene in a park in Annecy.
What we know so far
Two children and one adult in critical condition
Four children and one adult injured in total
A suspect is in custody
A man in custody is believed to be a Syrian asylum seeker
The Prime Minister on his way to the stage
Follow for more updates.
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