France’s Macron visits victims of Alps knife attack in hospital

President visits seriously wounded children as investigators seek to unravel Syrian suspect’s motive.

France's President Emmanuel Macron (L), flanked by his wife Brigitte Macron (C) and Grenoble CHU director Monique Sorrentino (R), arrives to visit the victims of a knife attack at the University hospital (CHU) in Grenoble, in the French Alps
Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron, left, are greeted by Grenoble Alpes University Hospital Director Monique Sorrentino, right [Benoit Lagneux/pool via AFP]

French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte, have visited four hospitalised preschool-aged children badly wounded in a knife attack in the French Alps that also injured two adults.

Investigators are working to unravel the motive of the Syrian suspect who was taken into custody shortly after Thursday’s attack at a lakeside park in Annecy.

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The Macrons arrived on Friday in the southeastern city of Grenoble, where the children are being treated, and also plan to visit those who have “contributed to helping and supporting them”, the presidency said.

“From what I understand, there are still two children considered to be in critical condition,” government spokesman Olivier Veran told Franceinfo radio, confirming that surgeries have taken place.

French scientific police work on the area after several children and an adult have been injured in a knife attack in Annecy, in the French Alps, France
French scientific police investigate the area where a knife attack occurred on June 8, 2023, in Annecy [Denis Balibouse/Reuters]

Two of the four children are French and the other two are tourists – one British, the other Dutch.

The suspect, a 31-year-old Syrian with refugee status in Sweden, is in custody. Psychiatrists were evaluating him, Veran said.

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.

A woman pays respect in front of messages and floral tributes at the children's playground the day after several children and adults were injured in a knife attack at the Le Paquier park near the lake in Annecy, in the French Alps, France
A woman pays respects in front of messages and floral tributes at the children’s playground the day after a knife attack at the Le Paquier park near the lake in Annecy [Denis Balibouse/Reuters]

French authorities said the suspect, identified as Abdalmasih H, was refused asylum in France on Sunday because Sweden had already granted him permanent residency and refugee status 10 years ago.

He was recently divorced from a Swedish national.

Officials said the suspect was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the attack.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said he was “not known by any intelligence service” and did not have “any history of psychiatric problems”.

Lead prosecutor Line Bonnet-Mathis said the man’s motives were unknown. He was armed with a folding knife, she said.

Two adults also suffered knife wounds – life-threatening for one them, she said. 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.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies