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Four children wounded in knife attack in French town, two in critical condition

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ANNECY, France (Reuters) -A Syrian national wounded four children and an adult in a knife attack in a park in the southeastern French town of Annecy on Thursday, police said, leaving some of the victims critically ill in hospital.

The attacker was a Syrian national with legal refugee status in France, a police official told Reuters. He was not known to security agencies and his motives were unclear, an investigative source said.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Twitter that the attacker had been arrested.

Two children and one adult were in life-threatening condition, while two children were slightly hurt, police said.

“Children and one adult are between life and death. The nation is in shock,” French President Emmanuel Macron said in a statement on Twitter, calling the attack “an act of absolute cowardice”.

Witnesses said at least one of the children wounded in the attack was in a stroller. The incident took place at around 0745 GMT in the playground of a lakeside park in Annecy, a town in the French Alps.

“He jumped (in the playground), started shouting and then went towards the strollers, repeatedly hitting the little ones with a knife,” a witness who gave his name as Ferdinand told BFM TV.

“Mothers were crying, everybody was running,” said George, another witness and owner of a nearby restaurant.

The TV channel showed footage of several policemen overpowering an individual in a park.

“Nothing more abominable than to attack children,” National Assembly speaker Yael Braun-Pivet said on Twitter. Parliament observed a minute of silence to mark the incident.

(Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten, Geert De Clercq and Juliette JabkhiroWriting by Geert De Clercq and Silvia AloisiEditing by Toby Chopra and Frances Kerry)

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