ANNECY: Residents of the Alpine town of Annecy will gather Sunday to honour the people who rushed to stop a Syrian refugee who stabbed six people, including four young children, last week. The city’s mayor, Francois Astorg, will pay homage to those who “acted with courage and professionalism” in confronting the attacker before police arrested him. They include two municipal agents who tried to stop the attacker with a shovel, a young man renting out pedal boats and a maths teacher who both tried to step in, and a tourist who chased the attacker.

A childminder also rushed in to rescue two wounded children. On Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron met the civilians being hailed as heroes for chasing the attacker from the playground where the stabbings took place. On Saturday, public prosecutor Line Bonnet-Mathis paid tribute to those who, “by their action, were able to preserve human lives”. She also acknowledged the work of the emergency services. She also announced that the Syrian refugee detained over the stabbings, named as Abdalmasih H, had been charged with “attempted murder”. The attack left the normally peaceful lakeside town in shock.

Hundreds of people have laid flowers, soft toys and heart-shaped balloons at the site of the attack. Abdalmasih H. “did not wish to speak” during his 48 hours in police custody nor before the magistrates leading the investigation, Bonnet-Mathis told reporters on Saturday. After two psychiatric evaluations, he was deemed “compatible with police custody”, and doctors had determined he did not suffer from delusions. However, she added, it was too early to diagnose or rule out other psychological pathologies.

Victims out of danger Bonnet-Mathis also said that the victims of the attack were no longer in a life-threatening condition. The children, aged between 22 months and three years, were initially hospitalised in a serious condition, while one adult was also seriously wounded and another lightly hurt. Recently divorced from a Swedish national and in his early 30s, the suspect 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 left the country because he had been unable to get Swedish nationality, she added. French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told broadcaster TF1 that “for reasons not well explained he had also sought asylum in Switzerland, Italy and France”. It emerged that his application in France was rejected last Sunday as he already had refugee status in Sweden. France has been the target of a series of traumatic Islamist attacks over the last decade. According to video taken by a bystander however, the attacker could be heard shouting “in the name of Jesus Christ” during the attack. While prosecutors say they have not identified a terror motive in the attack, the incident has intensified tensions in France over immigration, with right-wing politicians seizing on the suspect’s foreign origins. – AFP