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Annecy knife attack: Syrian migrant charged with attempted murder after stabbing children at playground

The Syrian refugee who allegedly stabbed four young children and two adults at a playground in Annecy, France, on Thursday was charged with attempted murder, authorities say.

The migrant, whose name has not been released, is a 31-year-old Syrian with permanent Swedish residency. Prosecutor Line Bonnet-Mathis told reporters on Saturday that he has a 3-year-old daughter living in Sweden.

The suspect was charged with armed resistance in addition to attempted murder. He reportedly refused to cooperate with investigators and remains in custody.

After being examined by a psychiatrist, the suspect was deemed fit enough to be criminally charged. The motive is unclear, but Bonnet-Mathis said that there is no proof that he was inspired by terrorism at this time.

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French Alps park stabbing scene

Police officers investigate at the scene after a knife attack Thursday, June 8, 2023 in Annecy, French Alps. A man with a knife stabbed several very young children, including at least one in a stroller, and also assaulted adults in a lakeside park in the French Alps. The savagery left at least two children and one adult with life-threatening injuries, authorities said.  (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

The child victims were all very young children, with a witness describing them as appearing to be 3 or 4 years old. Witnesses claim that the suspect mentioned his wife, his daughter and Jesus Christ during the attack.

All victims are no longer in life-threatening condition. French President Emmanuel Macron said that the doctors are “very confident” about the two 2-year-old French cousins who were the most seriously injured.

The other two children – a British girl and a Dutch girl – have both improved, but remain hospitalized. The Portuguese man who was wounded while trying to detain the attacker is “now out of danger,” according to Portugal’s foreign ministry.

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Annecy crime scene

First responders transport a victim away from the scene of the knife attack in Annecy, France, on Thursday, June 8.  (Florent Pecchio/L’Essor Savoyard/Reuters)

Another adult was injured and was discharged from a hospital with his left elbow damaged. A Catholic pilgrim named Henri is credited with stopping the suspect – the 24-year-old was touring French cathedrals when he used his heavy backpack to swing at the suspect.

According to Henri’s father, the suspect “was incoherent, saying lots of strange things in different languages, invoking his father, his mother, all the Gods.”

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Helicopter at French park stabbing scene

A medical helicopter is pictured after a knife attack in a park of Annecy, French Alps, Thursday, June 8, 2023. An attacker with a knife stabbed several young children and two adults, leaving some with life-threatening injuries, in a town in the Alps on Thursday before he was arrested, authorities said.  (Florent Pecchio/L’Essor Savoyard via AP)

According to the French interior minister, the suspect had applied for asylum in France but was rejected last week. The rationale was that he was already given asylum in Sweden.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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