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Screenshot from La Provence.

Marseille: At least one woman injured after knife attack at elementary school

A class at a primary school in Marseille at the start of the 2019 school year was in a state of complete shock after a staff member was stabbed by a 17-year-old.

Published: September 7, 2019, 8:05 am

    The suspect also assaulted two other people before being arrested less than two hours later by the police. “We do not know if it is a knife or a pair of scissors,” said the prosecutor Xavier Tarabeux, specifying that two blades of scissors were found nearby.

    The 17-year-old teenager stabbed a staff member at La Pauline elementary school in Marseille on September 6 with scissors and assaulted two other people before being arrested. He was shirtless and “very excited”, less than two hours later, according to a police source.

    The prosecutor of Marseilles visited to the scene of the attack. According to the injured staff member, the aggressor shouted: “I am a Muslim, today I am going to kill all the Christians, Allah Akbar”, but authorities maintain that “the context remains confused”.

    Laurent Nuñez, the Secretary of State to the Minister of the Interior, alongside the Minister of the National Education, said: “The suspect was relatively unknown” to the police, because he was jailed for “narcotics” only, and “not known for radicalisation”.

    “One aggressor [is] at the origin of the incident,” said the police from Bouches-du-Rhone on its Twitter account two hours later, confirming the arrest of the alleged perpetrator. The public prosecutor of Marseille, Tarabeux and the mayor of the city Jean-Claude Gaudin were on the scene on Friday morning.

    The attack took place between 6.30 and 6.40 am, when the young man entered the La Pauline school, in the ninth arrondissement – located in the southern neighbourhoods of the city – and stabbed one of the ladies working at the establishment.

    She is part of the municipal staff responsible for looking after children in the canteen or in classrooms. The woman was stabbed in the abdomen, a spokesman of the Departmental Directorate of Public Security told AFP.

    The attacker then punched another staff member of the school who had tried to stop him, before punching a passer-by in the street, a man.

    The investigation was handed over to the national police. The reason for the aggression is not known for the time being but according to the regional newspaper La Provence, the suspect is thought to be “disturbed”.

    From the same source, it is said that the suspect might have acted after a “family dispute” that ignited his anger. “This is what the first elements of the investigation seem to indicate. But we must be careful at this time. To our knowledge, this young man did not have a particular profile,” another source close to the file said. The judicial police have been seized in the investigations.

    The school was completely cordoned off to allow the investigators to work, and remained closed to the children on September 6. The shocked parents waited for several hours in front of the school gate. “It could have happened at the time of the canteen or the recreation in the yard”, a mother said.

    In a press release, Force Ouvrière, a majority union among municipal officials in Marseille, called for a support rally in front of the Pauline school on Monday, September 9, 2019 at 2.30 pm to “denounce together the exceptionally serious and heinous nature of this aggression”.

    French clinical psychologist Marie-Caroline Saglio-Yatzimirsky has warned that many migrants are currently suffering from severe mental illness.

    She complained that migrants had no access to health professionals for treatment, Le Progres reported.

    “The mental disorders of migrants are both neglected and denied. There is a problem of structures and a very significant lack of possibility of care,” she said and added: “Refugees have often had extremely violent trajectories that cause post-traumatic stress disorder associated with symptoms of depression, some even have suicidal thoughts.”

    The recent mass stabbing attack by a 33-year-old Afghan migrant that led to the death of one person in Lyon has also been linked to mental illness. But in February, the Afghan was seen by a psychologist who claimed that the he showed no serious symptoms of mental illness.

    Both the Red Cross and Urgent Medical Aid Service contradicted Saglio-Yatzimirsky, saying that at least 26 percent of migrants have asked to see a mental health professional.

    The British NGO Doctors of the World said last year which said that as many as three-quarters of the migrants in Calais suffered from mental illness.

    In Italy a study found that most migrants suffer from mental disorders which make them prone to “aggressive behaviour” and “psychotic episodes”. The research done in Padua, northern Italy, found that 54 percent of the respondents showed “obvious symptoms” of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), local media reported.


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