(AP) — The man suspected of stabbing four young children and two adults in a park in the French Alps is facing potential charges Saturday, after an attack that reverberated across France and beyond.
The children, between 22 months and 3 years old, remain hospitalized, but the French president expressed hope after speaking to their doctors Friday that their conditions would continue to improve.
The six victims came from four different countries: France, Britain, the Netherlands and Portugal.
The suspect, a 31-year-old Syrian political refugee with permanent residency status in Sweden, was expected to appear before a judge Saturday, according to local officials. The regional prosecutor, Line Bonnet-Mathis, was scheduled to give a news conference later in the day.
Police detained the suspect in the lakeside park in the town of Annecy after bystanders – notably, a who repeatedly swung at the attacker with his backpack – sought to deter him.
The motive behind Thursday’s savage attack, in and around a playground, remained unexplained. The prosecutor said it didn´t appear to be terrorism-related.
French President Emmanuel Macron visited the victims and their families, first responders and witnesses Friday.
Macron said two young French cousins who were the most critically injured have stabilized, and doctors were “very confident.”
France Mass Stabbing: Child Victims Remain in Critical Condition https://t.co/MjF4B4eqm2
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 9, 2023
The wounded British girl “is awake, she’s watching television,” Macron added. A wounded Dutch girl also has improved and a critically injured adult – who was both knifed and wounded by a shot that police fired as they detained the suspected attacker – is regaining consciousness, Macron said.
The seriously injured adult was treated in Annecy. Portugal’s foreign ministry said he is Portuguese and “now out of danger.” He was wounded “trying to stop the attacker from fleeing from the police,” it said. The second injured adult was discharged from a hospital, his left elbow bandaged.
The pilgrim, Henri, a 24-year-old who is on a nine-month walking and hitchhiking tour of France’s cathedrals, said he’d been setting off to another abbey when the horror unfolded in front of him. The attacker slashed at him, but Henri held his ground and used a weighty backpack he was carrying to swing at the assailant.
Henri’s father said his son “told me that the Syrian was incoherent, saying lots of strange things in different languages, invoking his father, his mother, all the Gods.”
The suspect’s profile fueled renewed criticism from far-right and conservative politicians about French migration policies. But authorities noted that the suspect entered France legally, because he has permanent residency status in Sweden. Sweden and France are both members of the EU and Europe’s border-free travel zone.
He applied for asylum in France last year and was refused a few days before the attack, on the grounds that he had already won asylum in Sweden in 2013, the French interior minister said.
Young Children in Critical Condition After Mass Stabbing in France Syrian Asylum Seeker Arrested https://t.co/2aaW0wQyNH
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 8, 2023