Three-year-old British girl stabbed in France park 'awake, watching TV,' says Emmanuel Macron

According to a French minister, the knifeman who attacked a group of children and two adults had been denied refugee status just days before the attack, Rachel Younger has the latest

The three-year-old British girl stabbed in a French playground "is awake, she's watching television," according to President Emmanuel Macron.

He had been visiting the lakeside town of Annecy on Friday after a knifeman attacked a group of four children and two adults the day before.

Macron had reassuring words about the victims, saying he was hopeful after speaking to doctors about their injuries and that “normally things will continue to improve.”

The most critically injured children, two cousins, were stabilized and “doctors were very confident," he told rescue workers, while a critically injured adult - who was both knifed and wounded by a shot that police fired as they detained the suspected attacker - is regaining consciousness.

The second injured adult was discharged from a hospital and was among the dozens of people that Macron met and thanked, his left elbow still bandaged.

Macron and his wife Brigitte travelled to the hospital treating three of the four children who suffered life-threatening knife wounds in the attack.

The British toddler, who was on holiday with her parents, was taken to hospital in Grenoble, a city around an hour-and-a-half from Annecy by car.

The knifeman has been described by police as a 31-year-old Syrian. French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said the man had tried to claim asylum in France, but it had been refused on Sunday because he had previously been granted asylum in Sweden ten years ago.

French prime minister Elisabeth Borne confirmed all four children underwent surgery and “are under constant medical surveillance”.

Dozens of tributes including flowers, teddy bears, candles and written messages were left at the park on Thursday night, with messages including “Love Annecy”, and “Children I don’t know you but in this hour you are fighting”.

The attack took place in a children’s play area Credit: Peter Byrne/PA

The Swedish Migration Agency has confirmed the suspect was granted permanent residency in 2013 and, although the agency did not identify him, said he subsequently sought Swedish citizenship in 2017 and 2018, both denied, and applied again in August last year.

Mr Darmanin said the suspect entered France legally, adding: “For some reasons we don’t really understand, he applied for asylum in Switzerland, in Italy and in France, which he didn’t need to do as he already had asylum in Sweden for the past ten years.”

Witnesses said the knifeman shouted “in the name of Jesus Christ” as he launched the attack, including stabbing a child in a pushchair repeatedly as bystanders screamed for help.

Footage of the attack shared on the internet showed a man in dark glasses, with a blue scarf covering his head, brandishing a blade as people screamed for help.

In a separate video, another man was shown running after the knifeman. The man waves his rucksack at the attacker who tries to slash at him with his knife.

Known by just his first name, Henri told French broadcaster Cnews: "What I know is that I was not there by chance. On my tour of the cathedral I crossed paths with this man.

Annecy, where the attack took place, on a map of France.

“I reacted instinctively. I did not think. To me, it was unthinkable not to do anything. I reacted how every French person should.

“Which means, I followed my instinct and did everything I could to protect the weak.”

Further footage shows Henri, who is wearing dark grey trousers and a dark-coloured t-shirt, chasing the attacker across a patch of grass.

President Macron expressed his gratitude to Henri, he said: "You experienced very hard moments, traumatising.

"I am very proud of you."

Ms Bonnet-Mathis told a press conference on Thursday afternoon the attacker’s motives remain unclear, but do not appear to be related to terrorism.

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said the suspect has no criminal or psychiatric record and appeared to have acted alone.

Flowers and teddy bears left at the children’s play area Credit: Peter Byrne/PA

“We are talking here about infants, very young infants who have been very seriously injured,” she told the press conference, according to a translation.

“We are absolutely shaken by all this and we are standing firm by the people of Annecy.”

Speaking at a press conference at the White House on Thursday evening alongside President Biden, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described the attack as “unfathomable”.

He added: “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 (French) President (Emmanuel) Macron. We stand ready to offer any assistance that we can.”

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