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Child victims of stabbing attack in France in critical but stable condition, president visits

PARIS -

France's president travelled Friday to the side of families traumatized by the savage stabbings of four very young children, all said to be in stable condition after emergency surgery, while investigators worked to unravel the motives of a Syrian man taken into custody.

President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte travelled together to a hospital treating three of the four children who suffered life-threatening knife wounds in Thursday's still unexplained attack in and around a play park in the Alpine city of Annecy.

Macron's prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, said all four children -- aged between 22 months and 3 years -- underwent surgery and "are under constant medical surveillance."

"Their situation is stable," she said.

Government spokesman Olivier Veran, a medical doctor by training, said two of the children remain in critical condition.

Most of the children were rushed after the attack to a hospital in the French Alpine city of Grenoble -- the first stop for Macron and his wife on Friday morning. They did not speak to reporters as they went inside.

The fourth injured child was being treated in Geneva, in neighbouring Switzerland.

Two of the four children are French and the other two were tourists -- one British, the other Dutch.

Two adults also suffered knife wounds -- life-threatening for one them, authorities said. One of the adults was injured both with a knife and by a shot fired by police as they were detaining the suspected attacker.

The suspect, a 31-year-old Syrian with refugee status in Sweden, remains in custody. Psychiatrists are evaluating him, Veran said.

The helplessness of the young victims and the savagery of the attack sickened France, and drew international condemnation.

French authorities said the suspect had recently been refused asylum in France because Sweden had already granted him permanent residency and refugee status a decade ago.

Lead prosecutor Line Bonnet-Mathis said the man's motives were unknown but did not appear to be terrorism-related. He was armed with a folding knife, she said.

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