Following the shock of the knife attack in Annecy, southeast France, residents organised a vigil for the victims who were targeted at a busy lakeside park.
These include four young children and two adults. Two of the children are in critical condition.
The children were stabbed on Thursday morning in a playground in the southeastern Alpine town of Annecy, an idyllic lakeside spot popular with foreign and domestic visitors.
The attacker, a Syrian refugee identified as Abdelmasih H., who was taken down by police, is in custody and has undergone a psychiatric examination.
“With the incident not being treated as a terrorist attack,” the man’s motives remain unclear, police said.
In some of the videos that have circulated of the incident, the assailant could be heard shouting “in the name of Jesus Christ” while attempting to stab the victims.
He was carrying a crucifix and among his belongings was a prayer book. He had previously declared himself a Christian to the administration when he applied for asylum.
The attacker obtained refugee status twelve years ago in Sweden, where he was married and had a son with a woman from whom he separated last year. Since the end of 2022, he has been in France, where he applied for asylum.
He was declined asylum last Sunday, only three days before the attack, as the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, pointed out on Wednesday evening.
The attack has sparked an intense political debate in France between conservatives and far-right voters on the issue of migration and the right to asylum.