British girl, 3, among four children knifed in French playground horror

Annecy: Moment suspected knifeman runs in park

A woman desperately tries to stop a knifeman who left a three-year-old British girl and three other toddlers fighting for their lives after a terrifying playground attack.

Two adults were also injured in the French Alps town of Annecy.

One mother screamed in horror as the attacker – a Syrian refugee – stabbed her son in his pushchair.

Other terrified parents ran away from the play park with their children, shouting “Run! Run!”.

During today’s barbaric attack, the knifeman reportedly said twice: “In the name of Jesus Christ.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described it as “unfathomable” and a “truly cowardly act”.

Speaking during a joint White House press conference with US President Joe Biden, he said: “All our thoughts are with those affected in this unfathomable attack, including a British child, and their families.

“I have been in touch with President Macron. We stand ready to offer any assistance that we can.”

As France recoiled in horror from the savage incident, French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted that the nation was in “shock”.

And UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, who was at an OECD ministerial council press conference in France, said: “We have already deployed British consular officials who are travelling to the area to make themselves available to support the family.

“And of course we stand in solidarity with the people of France at this terrible time.”

A police source said that the knifeman “targeted children indiscriminately and also wounded an adult” from around 9.45am local time.

Line Bonnet, the state prosecutor in Annecy, said the man was being investigated for attempted murder. She added: “There is no evidence at this point to suggest a terrorist motive.”

Ms Bonnet confirmed that the British girl was a tourist, as was a Dutch boy also among the victims.

Annecy mayor Francois Astorg said later that the children, who were transferred to various hospitals with stab wounds, were “out of the operating room” and “for the moment, their condition seems stable”.

But they remained in intensive care. Two of the four were said to have been treated for “life-threatening injuries”. An adult was still in surgery, Mr Astorg added.

Horrifying video footage of the incident was captured showing the attacker carrying a knife and running towards a screaming mum whose little boy was in a pushchair.

A brave man hit the man with his rucksack and chased him away.

But the knifeman quickly jumped back into the playground before running towards the mother and her toddler once more.

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The woman screamed and tried to protect her son with her body but the knifeman quickly moved around her and stabbed the little boy twice. The toddler could be seen crying out in pain as the mum and other terrified parents screamed for help.

The attacker then ran back towards the child in the pushchair and stabbed him again before he was chased away.

He also stabbed three other toddlers, the youngest aged 22 months, in quick succession before fleeing the playground.

Video footage taken minutes after the stabbings showed the attacker being chased by locals across the park. Distraught parents could be heard in the background yelling for assistance for their injured children.

The rampage, which also saw an elderly man of 70 stabbed in the neck, happened in the south-eastern alpine holiday town near France’s borders with Italy and Switzerland.

Police said the attacker was later shot by officers and arrested.

He was named as Abdalmasih H, a 31-year-old asylum seeker from Syria. Police said he had refugee status in Sweden, a wife and a three-year-old child.

He later told police he was a Syrian Christian. The authorities said he had no criminal record or history of psychiatric illness.

The motive for the random attack currently remains a mystery. However, it was claimed the knifeman’s marriage to a Swedish woman ended some eight months ago and the pair have not been in contact for four months.

They previously lived in Trollhattan, 50 miles north of Gothenburg, and reportedly met in Turkey in 2018.

He was granted refugee status in Sweden on April 26 this year, allowing him free movement within the EU’s Schengen area.

At the time of his asylum application he said he was a Syrian Christian and it is understood he had been studying remotely to become a nurse.

His three-year-old British victim was transported to hospital in Grenoble. The other youngsters are said to be a two-year-old boy, who is in intensive care at Annecy Genevois hospital with his four-year-old sister.

The fourth and youngest victim was a 22-month-old German boy, who was taken to Geneva Hospital in Switzerland.

Former Liverpool Football Club star Anthony Le Tallec revealed he witnessed the latter part of the attack. Speaking in a video posted on Instagram, he told how he was running by the lake in Annecy, before spotting people running towards him telling him to flee.

Mr Le Tallec, 38, said the suspect then appeared in front of him, chased by police.

He said: “He came near me, so I moved away. I see him go to towards a grandma and a grandpa, and he attacked the grandpa.”

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