'No terrorist motive' in stabbing of toddlers in French town of Annecy

AFP/The Local France
AFP/The Local France - [email protected]
'No terrorist motive' in stabbing of toddlers in French town of Annecy
French police personnel maintain a secure cordon in Annecy, south-eastern France on June 8, 2023, following a mass stabbing in the French Alpine town. . Photo by OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE / AFP

The local prosecutor says there was 'no apparent terrorist motive' in the stabbing of six people - including four pre-school children - in the French Alpine town of Annecy.


The man attacked a group of children aged between two and three at 9.45am in a play area near the lake in the Alps town of Annecy, in eastern France.

The injury total was initially reported as seven but has now been clarified as six, including four children.

The children are aged between 22 months and three-years-old, and includes a British toddler and a Dutch boy. It is not clear whether they lived in the area or were visiting. 

Three of the injured are in intensive care where their condition is listed as critical. The attacker has been arrested.

LATEST UPDATES: What we know so far about the Annecy attack


"There's no obvious terrorist motive," local prosecutor Line Bonnet-Mathis told reporters at a press conference alongside Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, who rushed to the lakeside town around 30 kilometres south of the Swiss city of Geneva.

Borne said the suspect was "not known by any intelligence service" and did not have "any history of psychiatric problems".

Recently divorced and in his early 30s, he had previously lived for 10 years in Sweden where he was granted refugee status in April, security sources and his ex-wife told AFP.

"He called me around four months ago. He was living in a church," his ex-wife said on condition of anonymity, saying he had left Sweden because he had been unable to get Swedish nationality.

Witnesses described him running around the park on the banks of Lake Annecy wearing a bandana and sunglasses, apparently attacking people at random.

The ex-footballer Anthony Le Tallec, who previously played for Liverpool and finished his career in Annecy, was in the area when the attack happened and published a video on Instagram describing the events.

He said: "I heard a mother shouting 'Run, run, there's someone stabbing everyone, all along the lake! He stabbed children, run, run!"


"Then I see the guy who arrives in front of me. He's on the grass and I see the cops 5 or 10 meters behind him. They can't catch him. He's coming towards me, so I move aside and see that he's heading straight for the grandparents. Then he attacks the grandpa. He stabs him once, and the cops behind him can't catch him.

"I tell them: 'Shoot him, kill him, he's stabbing everyone!' They shoot the person, who falls to the ground. I continued running and saw children on the ground in the distance."

Another witness, named Malo, told the BFM television channel that the culprit attacked the children before the old man and was "shouting, but it wasn't really comprehensible".

In a video viewed by AFP and confirmed by a source close to the case, the attacker can be heard twice saying "in the name of Jesus Christ" in English.

A police source said the attacker had described himself as a Syrian Christian asylum-seeker.

French media reported that the man had been granted refugee status in Sweden, had been married to a Swedish woman and was a father of three. 

Within hours of the attack, calls from far-right activists to demonstrate in Annecy this evening were circulating online, using a hashtag popularised by the 2022 extreme-right presidential candidate Eric Zemmour. 

Video of the attack - apparently filmed by a passer-by on a mobile phone, has been circulated on social media by far-right accounts. Police have warned users that broadcasting or sharing videos of acts of violence - including by retweeting - is a criminal offence in France.


French president Emmanuel Macron condemned the attack as an act of "absolute cowardice".

Sending his thoughts to the victims, their families and the emergency services he added that "the nation is in shock" and that three of the victims were fighting for their lives.


A minute's silence was held in the French Assemble nationale as the news broke. 


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also