French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne speaks of a "cowardly and heinous act": A man suddenly attacked and injured four small children and two adults with a knife on a playground in eastern France. The crime has shocked France deeply - and top German politicians are also stunned. Dramatic scenes took place in the park, people ran for their lives, others helped to overpower the perpetrator - the suspect is finally arrested. Two children and one adult are fighting for their lives after the attack in Annecy. But what drove the man who attacked small children?
French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter: "The nation is in shock." Germany's Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) wrote on Twitter: "What an unimaginably cowardly and despicable act. Our thoughts are with the injured children and their families. We very much hope that they will recover." Chancellor Olaf Scholz wrote to Macron: "Germany is shocked by this inhumane and despicable act." During her trip to Latin America in the Colombian city of Cali, Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said: "There is nothing more cowardly than attacking defenseless small children."
But what exactly happened on Thursday morning in the eastern French city near the Swiss border is still unclear. According to video images, the authenticity of which the newspaper "Le Parisien" claims to have checked, the perpetrator repeatedly attacked small children who were in prams. A woman screamed and tried to push the perpetrator back from the children. "Two city officials tried to stop the perpetrator as he carried out his crimes," said Annecy Mayor François Astorg. He praised the courage of the helpers, psychological care had been set up.
Ex-professional footballer Anthony Le Tallec also witnessed the attack. While jogging by the lake, he suddenly saw people running towards him. "Suddenly a mother said to me, run, run, there's someone stabbing everyone." Then he saw the perpetrator running across the meadow, who was being followed by the police. The perpetrator ran up to a couple of pensioners and attacked the old man and stabbed him twice. Finally, the police overpowered the attacker. Further down at the lake he then saw the attacked children lying on the ground.
Prosecutor Line Bonnet-Mathis emphasized that the investigation into the suspicion of attempted murder is only just beginning, and the motive is still unclear. But she also said: "Currently we have no indications that would indicate a terrorist motive." Media had previously reported that the attacker had a cross and a prayer book with him when he was arrested. He is said to have shouted "In the name of Jesus Christ" before the attack. Prosecutor Bonnet-Mathis said of the attacker's profile: "It's far too early today to say anything about it." In any case, the perpetrator was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs. "We're trying to understand his motive."
What is known, however, is that the perpetrator has only been in France for a few months. The Syrian had previously lived in Sweden for years, said Borne. In France he was without a permanent residence. For the European security authorities, the man is unknown, there is nothing about him. There is also no evidence of psychiatric treatment in the past. According to media reports, the man in Sweden is said to have been married to a woman and have a three-year-old child - he and his wife recently separated.
In the attack, the perpetrator seriously injured four children aged 22 months to 3 years and two adults. Two of the children were on a holiday trip and are from the UK and the Netherlands. According to media reports, the other two are French siblings. "Today is the time of emotion," said Prime Minister Borne. She traveled to Annecy to express the nation's full solidarity and support. "When it hits children, I think we're all hit deep down."