June 15, 2024 2:07 am

France stabbing: Toddlers stable after Annecy attack, Macron says

French President Emmanuel Macron said he has heard “positive” news about the condition of child victims of Thursday’s knife attack in Annecy.

Mr Macron was visiting the town where four children were attacked.

He said a young British girl had “woken up” after surgery. A Dutch toddler is also reportedly recovering.

The suspect – a Syrian man with refugee status in Sweden – remains in custody and is due to undergo a psychiatric assessment.

The 31-year-old is thought to have been living homeless in Annecy and recently had an asylum claim rejected. No terrorist motive is suspected.

Four children in all – aged between 22 and 36 months – and two pensioners were wounded during the assault.

In a speech in the Alpine town, Mr Macron said that attacking children was “the most barbaric act”.

He visited a local hospital, where he met a man who was stabbed by the assailant during the attack. He also met Henri, the so-called “backpack hero” who used his backpack to stop the attacker.

Mr Macron said the young British girl who was attacked and received surgery had “woken up”.

“She is watching TV and [the attack] is just a bad memory already,” he said, according to the AFP news agency.

“Doctors are optimistic,” the president said, adding that caution was still required.

Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said he was “relieved” to hear that the Dutch girl who fell victim to the attack “is out of danger”.

Salih Ismajl cries in front of messages and floral tributes in AnnecyIMAGE SOURCE,REUTERS
Image caption,

Many in Annecy have been paying tribute to the victims

The playground where the attack took place, by the lake in Annecy, was full on Friday. But there was not a child in sight – the glare of television cameras kept parents away.

Their place was taken by a crowd of journalists, as well as local people coming to leave tributes along the playground wall: white flowers for the innocence of the victims – messages that hint at the outrage in France.

“Innocence attacked!” one read.

“We must not fear the evil that sometimes resides in people,” said another.

Matic William, a 40-year-old shopkeeper from the area, said he often brought his three-year-old son to the playground.

“It feels like we’re in another world,” he told the BBC. “You can feel this very heavy atmosphere, this tension.”

Prosecutors are trying to work out the motive for the attack.

They have said that the suspect – a Syrian man with refugee status in Sweden – has no recorded history of psychiatric illness, but there are growing questions about his current mental state.

He is thought to have been living as a homeless person in Annecy since last autumn, after leaving his ex-wife and three year old son in Sweden.

France’s interior minister says his claim for asylum in France was rejected a few days ago.

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