Annecy Animation Film Fest reacts to knife attack just days before 2023 edition opens

Annecy Animation Film Fest reacts to knife attack just days before 2023 edition opens

A knife attack on Thursday shocked the French Alpine town of Annecy just days before the annual Annecy International Animated Film Festival kicks off on Sunday.

An attacker with a knife stabbed several small children and at least one adult, leaving some with life-threatening injuries, authorities said. The motive and identity of the attacker were not immediately clear. The attack took place in Le Paquier, the large meadow on Lake Annecy where most of the events in the city take place.

“The management and team of the Annecy International Animation Film Festival were shocked to learn of the tragic events that took place this morning at Le Paquier,” the organizers said in a statement. “Our thoughts immediately go out to the victims and their families.”

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The festival, which runs June 11-17 in the lakeside town 22 miles south of Geneva, Switzerland, will attract some 14,000 animation experts and fans. Nicknamed the “Pearl of the French Alps”, it had a population of approximately 132,000 in 2020.

In a short tweet, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said the police had arrested the attacker. “Several people, including children, were injured by a knife-wielding individual in a square in Annecy,” he tweeted.

Witnesses said some of the children looked very small. A man who spoke to broadcaster BFMTV said he saw rescuers working on “little bodies, maybe 3 or 4 years old”.

A local lawmaker, Antoine Armand, said children were attacked in a playground. Speaking to BFMTV from the National Assembly building in Paris, he said the victims included “very young” children who were “savagely attacked”. The attack occurred near an elementary school, he said.

The national police and an interior ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak about the evolution of the situation, both said that four children were among the injured.

Police said two of the children sustained life-threatening injuries and the other two were lightly injured. Police said an adult also sustained fatal injuries. Both the police and the Interior Ministry official warned that the number of injured could evolve because the full details were not yet clear.

In Paris, lawmakers interrupted a debate to hold a moment of silence for the victims.

The president of the assembly, Yaël Braun-Pivet, declared: “There are some very young children who are in critical condition and I invite you to respect a minute of silence for them, for their families, and so that, we hope, the consequences do not make the nation suffer from this very serious attack”.