An incident occurred in the French Alps where a man armed with a knife attacked several young children and adults. Before the assault, the assailant allegedly shouted “In the name of Jesus Christ.” The suspect, identified as 31-year-old Abdalmasih H., is a Syrian asylum-seeker who had described himself as a “Christian from Syria” when applying for refugee status in France in November 2022. The attack took place in a children’s play park in the town of Annecy, and numerous videos depicting the horrifying scenes began circulating social media.
The footage revealed a man wearing dark glasses and a blue scarf over his head, brandishing a knife while terrified individuals cried out for help. He proceeded to roam around the playground, attacking a bystander, and then forcibly entered the area to target both children and adults. Shockingly, he repeatedly stabbed a child in a stroller. Witnesses reported that the assailant shouted “In the name of Jesus Christ” twice before assaulting the children.
According to the local prosecutor, Line Bonnet-Mathis, four children aged between 22 months and three years, as well as two adults, sustained injuries in the playground attack. Bonnet-Mathis stated during a press conference that the children were in critical condition and receiving intensive care. The suspect was swiftly apprehended and is currently detained at the Annecy police station. Although the motive behind the attack remains unclear, authorities have ruled out any connection to terrorism.
French President Emmanuel Macron condemned the act as a display of “absolute cowardice” and expressed concern for the victims, noting that some were fighting for their lives. The nation reacted with shock to the incident. Local police disclosed that all four child victims were under the age of five, with two of them and one adult suffering life-threatening injuries, according to the national police.
A witness who spoke to French broadcaster BFMTV recounted seeing the attacker assaulting an elderly man, repeatedly stabbing him. The witness desperately urged the police to intervene. Another individual, an ice cream vendor working in the park, claimed to have seen the assailant observing the lake surrounded by mountains in the days leading up to the attack.
In addition to the children, another adult was injured and receiving medical treatment, though further details were not provided, causing some discrepancy in the reported number of adult victims. Local politician Antoine Armand reported that the assault occurred on a playground near a primary school, describing the victims as “very young” children who were viciously attacked.
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In a display of solidarity, politicians in Paris paused a debate to observe a moment of silence for the victims. Yaël Braun-Pivet, the president of the assembly, urged everyone to honor the minute of silence to show respect for the children, and their families, and to hopefully prevent the nation from enduring further grief due to this grave attack.