A British girl injured in a knife attack at a lakeside park in the French Alps is in stable condition in hospital, according to reports.
The girl, said to be aged three, was one of four children and two adults wounded when the suspect – identified by police as a 31-year-old Syrian – attacked people with a knife in the town of Annecy on Thursday.
Authorities said the children were taken to hospital in critical condition, but Annecy Mayor François Astorg told French media on Thursday evening they were “stable” and “out of the operating room” – with the Telegraph reporting the girl is now in hospital in Grenoble, a city around an hour-and-a-half away by car.
One of the adults involved suffered serious injuries as a result of both a knife wound from the attacker and a bullet wound from police as they shot at the knifeman while trying to detain him, according to local prosecutor Line Bonnet-Mathis.
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.
In a statement released on Thursday evening, Yves Le Breton, the prefect of Haute-Savoie region – the department that governs Annecy, said public demonstrations would be banned for the remainder of the day over fears of far-right violence.
A translation of a statement released by the prefect, who is the state’s representative in the region, said: “Because of calls for demonstrations entitled ‘Francocide’ (Killing of French people) and in order to warn of all risk of trouble to public order, the prefect of Haute-Savoie has imposed a ban on all demonstrations on Thursday at Annecy.
“These calls to demonstrate could in effect be considered a provocation and risk attracting counter-demonstrations of trouble and violence.”
The Swedish Migration Agency has confirmed he was granted permanent residency in 2013 and, although the agency did not identify the suspect, said he subsequently sought Swedish citizenship in 2017 and 2018, both denied, and applied again in August last year.
Footage of the attack shared on the internet showed a man in dark glasses and with a blue scarf covering his head brandishing a blade as people screamed for help.
In another video, the man appeared to shout “in the name of Jesus Christ” while waving the knife in the air, with people nearby heard screaming for police.
He then slashed at a man carrying a rucksack who attempted to approach him. The video then showed a woman frantically pushing a stroller inside the play area of the park as the attacker approached her while she screamed for help.
She attempted to fend off the attacker before he leaned forward and stabbed down into the stroller.
“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.”
Following the attack, deputy mayor of Annecy, Chantale Farmer, told BBC News how schools were put in “lockdown” to protect children in the area.
She said: “We try to protect the children because we had schools around so we locked them down for a while and so we (could) also give information to the parents and also to the people working in those schools.
“All the people in Annecy are very shocked right now.”
Ms Farmer said psychological help has been put in place to support those who witnessed the attack, including a class of schoolchildren who were in the park at the time.
The involvement of a British victim was confirmed earlier on Thursday by Foreign Secretary James Cleverly.
Mr Cleverly, speaking at an OECD ministerial council press conference in France hours after the attack, said: “We have already deployed British consular officials who are travelling to the area to make themselves available to support the family.
“And of course we stand in strong solidarity with the people of France at this terrible time.”
Speaking at a press conference at the White House on Thursday 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.”