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Annecy gathers in support of knife attack victims

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PARIS (Reuters) – Citizens of the southeastern French town of Annecy gathered on Sunday in support of victims of the knife attack which gravely wounded four toddlers and two pensioners on Thursday.

The municipality called the rally at the lakeside Le Paquier park where the attack took place, also to honour those who tried to block the attacker before he was overpowered by police.

Annecy Mayor Francois Astorg told the crowd the attack was “a tragedy touching our city, the country and the whole world.

“Our only choice is to respond with unity and hope … to choose the future rather than destruction. To gather is to build rather than hate,” Astorg said.

The suspect, a Syrian refugee, is under formal investigation for attempted murder and was placed in detention on Saturday.

The injured are no longer in critical condition, Annecy Prosecutor Line Bonnet-Mathis told a news conference on Saturday, though the four children remained in hospital.

The stabbing was the first violent attack targeting children since 2012, when gunman Mohamed Merah shot three Jewish children and one of their parents, and then three soldiers, in Toulouse.

(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by David Holmes)

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