A man detained in connection with the stabbing of six people, including four children, in the French Alpine town of Annecy has been charged with “attempted murder”, the prosecutor has said.
Abdalmasih H “did not wish to speak” during his 48 hours in police custody nor before the magistrates leading the investigation, public prosecutor Line Bonnet-Mathis told a news conference on Saturday.
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He was examined by a psychiatrist who considered his state of health to be compatible with holding him in custody.
“Presently, it is premature to assess his motivations,” Bonnet-Mathis said, reiterating that the assailant’s motivations were not known.
She added that the victims were no longer in a life-threatening condition.
The 31-year-old Syrian national was detained in connection with the Thursday morning attack. French authorities said he had recently been refused asylum in France because Sweden had already granted him permanent residency and refugee status a decade ago.
The youngest child to have been attacked is a 22-month-old. Two of the children are two years old, and the oldest is three. Two are French nationals, while the other two were British and Dutch.
Two adults also suffered knife wounds. One of the adults was hurt both by the attacker’s knife and later by a shot fired by police as they were making the arrest, Bonnet-Mathis said.
France has been shocked by a number of violent incidents over the past few months, including the fatal stabbing in May of a nurse in the northern town of Reims. Also last month, a drunk driver accidentally killed three policemen.
French President Emmanuel Macron has denounced what he calls a “de-civilisation process” in the country, while opposition lawmakers say his government has been too lax on law and order.
Macron and his wife, Brigitte, visited the wounded children in the hospital in Grenoble during a visit on Friday.
He cautioned against jumping to conclusions in the case.
“We obviously need transparency, and everything must be done so that this type of drama does not happen again, but once we have done preliminary work,” he said.