Annecy: British girl stabbed in French knife attack can leave hospital 'within days'

The knife attack injured four children and two elderly adults. Credit: PA

A British girl who was one of four children stabbed in a knife attack in the French Alps while on holiday will be able to leave hospital soon, prosecutors have said.

Preliminary attempted murder charges were handed to a Syrian refugee, who has been declared fit to face charges after the children, aged between 22 months and three years, and two elderly adults were attacked at a lakeside park in Annecy, France.

The British girl, named locally as Ettie, three, who had been visiting the area with her parents, will be able to leave a hospital in Grenoble within days of Thursday's attack, officials said.

French President Emmanuel Macron had met the girl on Friday, saying afterwards that she was awake and "watching television."

A 31-year-old man, who has permanent residency in Sweden and whose name has not been released, was presented to investigating judges in Annecy on Saturday and given charges of attempted murder and armed resistance, Ms Bonnet-Mathis said.

He has been remanded in custody pending further investigation, she told a press conference.

Ms Bonnet-Mathis said the rest of the victims are no longer in a life-threatening condition.

Flowers and tributes left at the scene where the attack took place in Annecy. Credit: PA

The suspected attacker has a three-year-old daughter living in Sweden, Ms Bonnet-Mathis told reporters on Saturday.

Witnesses told investigators that the suspect mentioned his daughter, his wife, and Jesus Christ during the attack.

Police detained the suspect in the park after bystanders, including a Catholic pilgrim who repeatedly swung at the attacker with his backpack, tried to deter him.

The suspect refused to talk to investigators, and was examined by a psychiatrist and other doctors who deemed him fit to face charges, the prosecutor said. She said that the motive remained unclear, but it didn’t appear to be terrorism-related.

The suspected attacker wore a cross and carried two Christian images with him at the time of the attack, the prosecutor said. He also had €480 (£410) in cash with him and a Swedish driver's license, and had been sleeping in the common area of an Annecy apartment building.

He had traveled from Sweden to Italy and Switzerland before coming to France last October, and French police are coordinating with colleagues in those countries to learn more about his trajectory, said Damien Delaby, director of the regional judicial police.

The child victims, along with the British girl, included two French two-year-old cousins, and a 22-month-old Dutch girl, according to the prosecutor.

The suspect was earlier moved from a police station in Annecy, a short walk from where the incident took place.

Lead prosecutor, Line Bonnet-Mathis, speaks during a press conference at the palais de justice d'Annecy in Annecy. Credit: PA

Ms Bonnet-Mathis earlier said the suspect was found not to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs when he was examined in custody.

"A psychiatric doctor also examined him and he pronounced him to be able to appear before the court," she said.

"It is premature to make any kind of psychiatric conclusion as to the state of the assailant so far.

"When he was arrested he had a knife which he used in the attack, he had a cross around his neck and a Swedish driving licence."

She added that witnesses said that the suspect "pronounced the words 'in the name of Jesus Christ' as he attacked".

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