Annecy, France, June 8 (AFP/APP):A man armed with a knife attacked a group of pre-school children playing by a lake in the French Alps Thursday, wounding four as well as an adult and sending shockwaves through the country.
Witnesses described the suspected knifeman running around in a frenzy, apparently attacking people at random, before he was shot by police near the banks of Lake Annecy.
“He wanted to attack everyone. I moved away and he lunged at an old man and woman and stabbed the old man,” former professional footballer Anthony Le Tallec, who was running in the park, told the local Dauphine Libere newspaper.
Another witness, named Malo, told the BFM television channel that the culprit attacked the children before the old man and was “shouting, but it wasn’t really comprehensible”.
Two of the children — believed to be aged around three — and an adult victim were in critical condition and fighting for their lives in hospital, a security source told AFP.
A police source said checks on the man, who was arrested at the scene, were ongoing, but he was unknown to French security services.
Annecy is a scenic town in the French Alps close to the border with Switzerland popular with tourists and home to one of the world’s top animation festivals, which starts Sunday.
French President Emmanuel Macron called it an “attack of absolute cowardice”.
“The nation is shocked. Our thoughts are with (the victims) as well as their families and the emergency services,” he wrote on Twitter.
– Minute of silence –
Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne’s office announced she was travelling to the scene and MPs in the French parliament held a minute’s silence.
“We hope that the consequences of this extremely serious attack… will not send the country into mourning,” parliament speaker Yael Braun-Pivet told MPs as she interrupted a raucous debate about pension reform.
The motive and identity of the attacker are being investigated and the local prosecutor is expected to give further details at a press conference.