Moment armed French police surround and capture knifeman after rampage leaves British girl, 3, and children injured

8 June 2023, 18:05 | Updated: 8 June 2023, 18:11

The moment police surround and capture the knife attacker
The moment police surround and capture the knife attacker. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Eyewitnesses have caught the moment the Syrian knife attacker in France is surrounded and captured by police after he wounded six people including a three-year-old British girl.

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Four children, including one as young as 22 months, are injured after the asylum seeker attacked a playground in a park in Annecy, southeastern France. Two adults are hurt.

The man, named as Abdalmasih H, is seen running around the coastal park pursuing a victim while police surround him.

A gunshot is heard but it is unclear if it hits him. The assailant falls to the ground as police surround and detain him. He remains in custody.

Content warning: Violence. Viewer discretion is advised

Earlier on Thursday, horrific footage shows the knife-wielding attacker stab at a child in a pram during his rampage in Annecy, France, while a woman who appears to be the mother desperately tries to stop him.

Abdalmasih H is shown running around a children's play park carrying a blade on Thursday morning.

Wearing a blue and white headdress, a jumper and shorts, he waves the knife as an onlooker tries to stop him with a bag, but slashes at him.

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Read more: British girl, three, among children injured in France knife rampage as police shoot and arrest Syrian attacker

Horror footage shows moment man attacks with a knife in Annecy

The attacker is seen in footage calmly walking through the children's play area
The attacker is seen in footage calmly walking through the children's play area. Picture: Social media

The terrified woman tries to push her child away from him, but he enters the park and motions as if to attack her.

But he stops, and instead runs to the pram, which he lunges twice at, before running away for a few seconds.

Sickeningly, he returns to lash out at the child again, though it is unclear if he manages to hurt the youngster as the pram rolls them out of his reach.

He then runs away again briefly, runs back to the child and appears to try attack again, while the woman with the pram tries to stop him.

Read more: Two children fight for life after being stabbed ‘by Syrian attacker’ at playground near lake in France

Shockingly, he then calmly walks out of the play park until he runs to escape the pursuit of a man who tries to give chase.

He is then shown calmly walking through a park, which is on the shores of Lake Annecy in the Alps, near Switzerland.

‘Very young children fighting for life’ after knife attack at French playground

He injured six people including the three-year-old girl, who police sources told C News in France is from the UK. In total, four children and two adults were injured, with some in critical condition.

Foreign secretary James Cleverly confirmed one of the victims was British.

"Our thoughts are with the victims and the families and we stand ready to support the French authorities in whichever way we can," he said.

"Also aware that one of the people, one of the children injured, was a British national. 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."

Prosecutor Line Bonnet-Mathis said one child aged three and a 22-month-old child were among the injured. Besides the British child, there is a Dutch national among the victims.

The knife attacker struck at a children's play park
The knife attacker struck at a children's play park. Picture: Alamy

A 70-year-old man was reportedly stabbed in the neck and taken to hospital.

French police earlier said two of the children who were aged about three have life-threatening injuries, as does one adult.

Eleanor Vincent, an American tourist who arrived just after the attack, told LBC the jewel of a town had been "turned into hell".

"The police very systematically cordoning off the entire area, turning away people, this place is crawling with tourists right now. It's peak season," she said.

"People were trying to access the area with their bicycles, there's a bike path that goes past right where this took place, and the police were turning them away, and they started cordoning off more areas of the lake so you couldn't walk anywhere.

"It really shut down everything that was happening at the lake in that area of the city."

The attacker was named as Abdalmasih H, 31. Ms Bonnet-Mathis said he has a child about the same ages as one of his young victims.

He is a Syrian with refugee status in Sweden, where has been for about 10 years. He has not got any known links to Islamist groups and was trying to claim asylum in France.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, who visited Annecy on Thursday, said he was not known to intelligence services and did not appear to have a psychiatric history.

His motive is unclear.

Le Parisien said he arrived in France in November and would have declared himself a Christian. He had a cross on him at his arrest.

He had married a Swedish woman and had a child about three years ago.

Rishi Sunak said: "The UK and France have always stood together against acts of violence, and we do so again today."

French president Emmanuel Macron said: "Attack of absolute cowardice this morning in a park in Annecy. Children and an adult are between life and death.

Police shot then arrested the attacker
Police shot then arrested the attacker. Picture: Alamy
The rampage broke out in a park on the lake
The rampage broke out in a park on the lake. Picture: Alamy

"The nation is in shock. Our thoughts are with them as well as their families and the emergency services mobilised."

France's interior minister said "has been arrested thanks to the rapid reaction of security forces".

The French National Assembly held a minute's silence.

Witnesses told Le Dauphine that a man wearing a turban began attacking the group of young children while they were playing at a small playground in Annecy.

Read more: 'I saw injured children on the ground, it was horrible,' says ex Liverpool footballer who witnessed Annecy stab attack

"We saw a person attacking children, small ones, obviously that was his target. After people tried to scare him, he walked away and the police intervened."

A witness at the scene told France Bleu Pays de Savoie: "He spoke English. In the beginning, we all thought it was staged, but with the cries of people, we realise that it's reality, the guy was confused."

Antoine Armand, a member of Parliament for Haute-Savoie, Annecy's department, also condemned the attack saying, it was "abominable".

He continued: "Abominable knife attack on children in a playground in Annecy. We still know very little but all my support for the victims, relatives, law enforcement and rescue. With you in mind."