Europe 1 with AFP / Photo credit: Xose Bouzas / Hans Lucas / Hans Lucas via AFP 11:00 am, June 09, 2023

President Emmanuel Macron and Brigitte Macron arrived Friday in Grenoble where three of the four children injured the day before in the Annecy knife attack are hospitalized, an AFP journalist found. The head of state and his wife go there to be "alongside the victims and their families as well as all the people who in Annecy have contributed to bring them help and support," said the Elysee.

Two of the four children injured by a Syrian refugee armed with a knife in an Annecy playground are still in "vital emergency", government spokesman Olivier Véran said Friday, shortly before the presidential trip.

"From what I know, there would still be two children who would be considered in absolute emergency, in vital emergency," he said on franceinfo, adding that "surgical interventions have been performed". Three of the injured children were transferred to Grenoble, the fourth to Geneva, Switzerland, after receiving first aid in Annecy.

Emmanuel Macron and Brigitte Macron want to be "at the side of the victims and their families as well as all the people who in Annecy have contributed to bring them help and support," said the Elysee. The motives of the aggressor, a Syrian refugee born in 1991, remain obscure at this stage, in any case "without apparent terrorist motive", according to the Annecy prosecutor's office, which does not exclude a "senseless gesture". Abdalmasih H., who spent the night in police custody, must be subjected to a psychiatric examination Friday morning, according to Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin on TF1.

Ongoing investigation for "assassination attempt"

With no criminal record and no fixed address, this 31-year-old man, who lived for ten years in Sweden, had left his family a few months ago to go to France and had been in Annecy since autumn 2022. When he acted, he was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, according to Annecy prosecutor Line Bonnet-Mathis. The ongoing investigation for "attempted murder" will "determine the motive" of the attacker, she said Thursday.

The assailant was granted asylum in Sweden in 2013 where he lived for 10 years. "He couldn't get Swedish citizenship, so he decided to leave the country. We separated because I didn't want to leave Sweden," his ex-wife told AFP.

>> READ ALSO - Attack in Annecy: the suspect subjected to a psychiatric examination to try to determine his motive

The father of a three-year-old child was in a legal situation when he arrived in France a few months ago. In a new asylum application filed in France in November 2022, he declared himself a "Christian from Syria", according to a police source. And he was wearing a Christian cross when he was arrested.

According to Gérald Darmanin, the French authorities notified him last Sunday, June 4, that he could not obtain asylum in France since he already had it in Sweden. The assailant, black shorts and blue scarf tied on his head, aimed at children during his deadly attack, according to images of the drama authenticated by AFP. He is also seen in this video raising his arms to heaven and shouting in English "in the name of Jesus!".

An improvised altar

This cry does not in itself justify a referral to the anti-terrorist prosecutor's office, according to a source close to the case. One adult was hospitalized after being injured by the assailant and shot by police during the arrest, and another adult was hit more lightly. The attack, which occurred in broad daylight, horrified Annecy residents and the thousands of tourists present at the beginning of the summer season.

A small improvised altar with candles, white roses and messages was erected Thursday night in a corner of the playground where the attack took place. Like many residents, Julie, a high school student, came Friday morning to lay a rose to "pay tribute to the victims" in this park where she often comes.

The attack sparked an avalanche of reactions in the political world, with right-wing and far-right politicians highlighting the origin and status of the aggressor. Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne and Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin have already visited Annecy on Thursday, a city in shock after the attack in broad daylight in a busy park by the lake.