Solidarity rallies with stabbing victims on the playing field

Solidarity rallies with stabbing victims on the playing field

PARIS – Marches were held on Sunday in the French Alpine town of Annecy in solidarity with the families of the victims of a stabbing attack on a playground that left four children and two adults hospitalized.

Annecy mayor François Astorgue had called for a “citizen’s march” in the lakeside park, where on Thursday a man with a knife attacked people. City authorities reopened the stadium hours after the crime to show that the area was safe again.

People have left flowers, stuffed toys and messages of support on the cushioned court surface since the event. A pink heart-shaped balloon attached to a seat reads: “For Kids – Love”.

The target children were a 22-month-old Dutch girl, a 3-year-old British girl, her two 2-year-old French cousins, a boy and a girl. They are still in hospital with serious injuries, the regional prosecutor said Saturday, but their lives are no longer in danger.

One of the injured, a Portuguese man who was stabbed while trying to stop the attacker from fleeing and then shot dead by police while in custody, remains in hospital.

Several bystanders also sought to deter the attacker, including the French Catholic pilgrim Henri who repeatedly hit the attacker with his backpack and dubbed him “the backpacking hero”.

The suspect, a 31-year-old Syrian refugee with permanent residence in Sweden, was charged on Saturday with attempted murder and armed resistance. Witnesses told investigators that the suspect mentioned his 3-year-old daughter, his wife, and Jesus Christ during the attack, said Regional Prosecutor Line Bonnet Mathis.

Preliminary charges in French law mean that judges have strong reason to suspect wrongdoing, but they give more time to investigate before deciding whether to send a suspect to trial.

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The prosecutor said the stabbed suspect refused to speak to investigators, and was examined by a psychiatrist and other doctors who deemed him fit to face the charges. It said the motive was unclear but did not appear to be linked to terrorism.

The suspect remains in custody pending investigation.

Local authorities provide psychological support to victims and their families, as well as to traumatized witnesses. Among those in the park at the time of the tragedy was a group of high school students on an end-of-year school trip, some of whom were said to have called the police and helped protect young children from the attacker.

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"Desbravador de cerveja apaixonado. Álcool alcoólico incurável. Geek de bacon. Viciado em web em geral."

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