British child 'in stable condition' in hospital after France playground knife attack

ITV News' Rachel Younger reports live from Annecy after four young children were stabbed in a park

A British girl injured in a knife attack at a lakeside park in the French Alps is reportedly in a stable condition in hospital.

The unnamed girl, aged three, was one of four children and two adults wounded when the suspect – identified by police as a 31-year-old Syrian – attacked people with a knife.

Authorities said the children were taken to hospital in critical condition, but Annecy Mayor François Astorg told French media on Thursday evening they were “stable” and “out of the operating room” – with the Telegraph reporting the girl is now in hospital in Grenoble, a city around an hour-and-a-half away by car.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described it as an "unfathomable attack."

Emergency services attend a park in Annecy, where at least four children and two adults were attacked by a man carrying a knife

Mr Sunak, speaking during a joint White House press conference with US President Joe Biden, told reporters: “All our thoughts are with those who were 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.”

French President Emmanuel Macron said "the nation is in shock" following the attack.

At least six people were injured in the incident. These include:

  • Four children, aged around three, who suffered life-threatening injuries

  • One adult who was hurt both with the attacker's knife and later by as shot fired by police

  • Another adult who is being treated for their injuries in hospital

A suspect was detained following the attack in Annecy. French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said the man has refugee status in Sweden.

Forensic teams gather in a playground at the scene of knife attack in Annecy. Credit: AP

Ms Borne added: "He has one child who is the same age as the children he attacked." She also said that he has no criminal of psychiatric record.

Lead prosecutor Line Bonnet-Mathis said the youngest child is 22-months-old, two of the victims are aged two, and the oldest child is aged three. Two of them were tourists, she said.

“The children are in a very severe state and are in intensive care," she added.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said: "Our thoughts are with the victims and the families, and we stand ready to support the French authorities in whichever way we can."

He said he was "also aware that one of the people, one of the children injured, was a British national".

Former Liverpool and Sunderland striker Anthony Le Tallec told police to shoot the attacker. Credit: PA

"We have already deployed British consular officials who are travelling to the area to make themselves available to support the family," he said.

"And of course we stand in strong solidarity with the people of France at this terrible time." He added that the attack was “horrific”.

“The attack in Annecy today, injuring young children, was an act of cowardice,” Cleverly tweeted.

He said that the UK stood with French Foreign Affairs minister Catherine Colonna “and the people of France”.

“We’re ready to support in whatever way we can,” he added.

Former Liverpool and Sunderland striker Anthony Le Tallec claimed he shouted at police to shoot the man as he ran towards him after the attack.

The attack occurred in the town of Annecy in the French Alps. Credit: ITV News

The former footballer, who now coaches in Annecy, said in a series of posts on his Instagram story: “I was running by the lake and suddenly I saw dozens of people running in the opposite direction.

“I wondered what was going on. A mum said run, run, there’s someone stabbing everyone along the lake. He’s stabbed children. Run, run.

“I was a little surprised, so I continue. Sure enough, I see the guy coming towards me on the grass.

“I could see police officers, five or 10 metres behind him, who couldn’t catch him. He came towards me, so I moved aside and I saw him heading towards elderly people.

“And he attacked the elderly man, stabbed him once and the police were behind him and couldn’t catch him.

“I told the police shoot him, kill him, he’s stabbing everyone. So he attacked once, twice, and they started shooting.”

As news of the attack broke, both police and the Interior Ministry officials cautioned the number of wounded could evolve because the full details weren't yet clear.

Video appearing to show the attack in and around a children's play park in the Alpine and lakeside town of Annecy was posted on social media.

The footage showed a man in dark glasses and with a blue scarf covering his head brandishing a knife, as people screamed for help.

Soldiers patrol after a knife attack in Annecy, French Alps. Credit: AP

The man appeared to shout “on name of Jesus Christ” as he waved his knife in the air, while people nearby could be heard screaming: “Police! Police!"

Footage, filmed by witnesses and obtained by BMFTV, appears to show the moment officers arrested the suspected attacker.

A witness who spoke to BFMTV said he saw the attacker assault an elderly man, jumping on him and stabbing him repeatedly. He said he yelled at police to act.

“I screamed, screamed at them to intervene,” he said.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak tweeted: “My thoughts are with all of those affected by the shocking attack in Annecy this morning.

Calling it a “truly cowardly act”, he said: “The UK and France have always stood together against acts of violence, and we do so again today.”

Local politician Antoine Armand speaking at the National Assembly after an attacker with a knife injured children and others in the Alps. Credit: AP

Thoughts that were echoed by President Macron, who called the incident an "attack of absolute cowardice" and those involved are now in a life or death situation.

Writing on Twitter he said: "Attack of absolute cowardice this morning in a park in Annecy. Children and an adult are between life and death.

"The Nation is in shock. Our thoughts are with them as well as their families and the emergency services mobilised."

Local politician, Antoine Armand, said the children were attacked on a playground. Speaking to BFMTV from the National Assembly building in Paris, he said the victims included “very young” children and they were “savagely attacked.” The attack took place close to a primary school, he said.

Health Minister François Braun tweeted: "All my thoughts are immediately with those injured by an individual armed with a knife in Annecy, and their loved ones.

Assembly president Yael Braun-Pivet called for a minute's silence after hearing news that 'very young children' were in a 'critical condition' following the attack

"I salute the rapid mobilization of the emergency services to take care of the victims, and in particular the the Urgent Medical Aid Service (SAMU).”

In Paris, politicians 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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