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Syrian refugee injures 4 children, adult in knife attack in French Alps town: report

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A Syrian national was arrested Thursday after allegedly stabbing four children and an adult in the French Alps town of Annecy in a knife attack that President Emmanuel Macron is decrying as an act of “absolute cowardice.” 

A witness told BFMTV following the stabbing spree that he saw first responders working on “little bodies, 3 or 4 years old, perhaps.” The suspect has not been publicly identified, but a police official told Reuters that he is a Syrian national with legal refugee status in the country. 

“Attack of absolute cowardice this morning in a park in Annecy. Children and an adult are between life and death,” Macron said on Twitter. “The Nation is in shock. Our thoughts are with them as well as their families and the emergency services mobilized.” 

Police say two children and one adult have suffered life-threatening injuries, while the other two children were slightly hurt, according to Reuters. 

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First responders transport a victim away from the scene of the knife attack in Annecy, France, on Thursday, June 8.  (Reuters)

“The individual was arrested thanks to the very rapid intervention of the police,” French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Twitter.  

Local lawmaker Antonie Armand told BFMTV that the children were “very young” and were “savagely attacked” on a playground close to a primary school, The Associated Press reported. 

Reuters, citing witnesses, also reported that one child involved was in a stroller and footage aired by the station showed police overpowering an individual. 

“He jumped [in the playground], started shouting and then went towards the strollers, repeatedly hitting the little ones with a knife,” one witness was quoted by Reuters as telling BFMTV. 

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Lawmaker Antoine Armand speaks in Paris

Lawmaker Antoine Armand, center, deputy for the Savoie region in the French Alps, speaks at the National Assembly on Thursday in Paris. He said the children were attacked in Annecy on a playground. (AP/Lewis Joly)

“Mothers were crying, everybody was running,” reportedly added another. 

In Paris, lawmakers interrupted a debate to hold a moment of silence for the victims. 

The assembly president, Yaël Braun-Pivet, said, “There are some very young children who are in critical condition and I invite you to respect a minute of silence for them, for their families, and so that, we hope, the consequences of this very grave attack do not lead to the nation grieving.” 

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Lawmakers in France's National Assembly pay tribute to knife attack victims

Members of the National Assembly stand and applaud in Paris to pay homage to young victims of a knife attack on Thursday. (AP/Lewis Joly)

The motive for the attack is unclear. The suspect is believed to be in his thirties, police said. 

He also is not known to French security agencies, a source told Reuters. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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