UPDATED with latest: The French city of Annecy was rocked on Thursday morning by a knife attack against a group of nursery school-age children playing in one of its lakeside parks.
In a meeting with the press some four hours after the attack, local prosecutor Line Bonnet-Mathis confirmed six people, including four children, had been hurt in the attack.
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The four children received life-threatening injuries and were currently being treated in local hospitals as well as in neighboring Switzerland, she said.
French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne and Interior MInister Gérald Darmanin made an emergency trip to the city in response to the incident.
“We are extremely upset by this odious and unspeakable act… France is in shock,” Borne said at the same meeting with the press.
She confirmed earlier media reports that the suspect was a homeless man of Syrian origin who had been living in Sweden for a decade with refugee status and had recently been denied an asylum request by France.
The prosecutor noted that the attacker did not appear to have a terrorist motive.
The attack comes just days before the kick-off of the Annecy International Film Festival, running from June 11 to 17, which will see some 14,000 animation enthusiasts descend on the city.
The incident took place in a large lawned lakefront recreational area known as Le Pâquier which is the site of the festival’s open-air screenings and other events throughout the year.
The festival responded with a short statement: “The Annecy International Animation Film Festival management and team were shocked to learn about the tragic events that took place on Le Pâquier this morning. Our thoughts immediately go to the victims and their families.”
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