How the Sudan crisis complicates the Egypt-Ethiopia dispute over the GERD dam

Special How the Sudan crisis complicates the Egypt-Ethiopia dispute over the GERD dam
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The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in early 2022 remains a source of friction among neighboring countries. (AFP)
Special How the Sudan crisis complicates the Egypt-Ethiopia dispute over the GERD dam
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The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in early 2022 remains a source of friction among neighboring countries. (AFP)
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Updated 28 April 2023

How the Sudan crisis complicates the Egypt-Ethiopia dispute over the GERD dam

How the Sudan crisis complicates the Egypt-Ethiopia dispute over the GERD dam
  • A peaceful resolution of the row over Ethiopia’s dam may hinge on who emerges victorious in Sudan’s power struggle
  • Experts say a prolonged conflict could throw both Sudan and Egypt’s water and food security into uncertainty

LONDON: In the past two weeks the world has become used to seeing photographs of Sudan’s Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, whose forces have been locked in combat with the rival paramilitary Rapid Support Forces since April 15, dressed in battle fatigues.

On January 26, however, the country’s de-facto ruler was wearing a dark suit, blue tie, and a broad smile, in full-on red-carpet diplomat mode as he greeted Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on the runway at Khartoum airport.

It was Abiy’s first visit to Ethiopia’s northern neighbor since the 2021 coup, led by Al-Burhan, that saw the derailing of the transition to civilian rule promised in the wake of the overthrow of the 30-year regime of dictator President Omar Al-Bashir in 2019.

The two men had much to talk about, but top of the agenda for Abiy was winning Sudan’s support for the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, the vast $4 billion hydroelectric project on the Blue Nile, just kilometres from Sudan’s border, that has proved controversial in the region ever since work began on it more than a decade ago.

The GERD is now 90 percent complete, and the coming rainy season will see an estimated 17 billion cubic meters of water retained in the fourth filling of the massive reservoir created by the dam.

Workers are seen walking at the site of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam  in Guba, Ethiopia, on February 19, 2022. (AFP file)

For millions of Ethiopians, half of whom have no electricity and still rely on burning wood for heat, cooking, and light, the dam is a symbol of hope, pride, and a brighter future. At a ceremony on the imposing dam in February last year, Abiy ceremoniously activated the first of its turbines, which began generating power.

When it reaches full capacity and all 13 turbines are feeding into the national power grid, the dam will boost Ethiopia’s industrialization, revolutionize the living standards of millions of its citizens, and earn the country badly needed income as an exporter of power to the region.

Ethiopia's massive hydro-electric dam project began producing electricity last year after more than a decade since construction work first started. (AFP)

Speaking at the 2022 ceremony, Abiy said: “From now on, there will be nothing that will stop Ethiopia. (The dam) will not disrupt the River Nile’s natural flow.” He noted that the start of electricity generation demonstrated “Ethiopia’s friendly attitude toward the river.”

The project was, he added, “excellent news for our continent and the downstream countries with whom we hope to collaborate.”

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaks during the first power generation ceremony at the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in early 2022. (AFP)

Ethiopia has always insisted that, as the dam was designed only to generate electricity, neither Egypt nor Sudan, although both downstream, will lose any of the precious water supplied by the Nile.

But when the plan was first unveiled, it was condemned by both Cairo and Khartoum as an existential threat — both nations are utterly dependent upon the life-giving waters of the Nile, which have flowed down from the Ethiopian Highlands since time immemorial.

 A man rides a boat on the waters of the White Nile river in Sudan's Jabal al-Awliyaa area on March 11, 2023. (AFP)

More than once over the past decade Egyptian concern over the scheme has threatened to escalate into violence.

In June 2013, several Egyptian politicians were overheard live on television discussing military options to halt the dam, with proposals ranging from backing Ethiopian rebels to sending in special forces to destroy it.

In March 2021, during a visit to Khartoum four days after signing a military cooperation agreement with Sudan, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said: “We reject the policy of imposing a fait accompli and extending control over the Blue Nile through unilateral measures without taking the interests of Sudan and Egypt into account.”

A few days later he upped the stakes, declaring that “the waters of Egypt are untouchable, and touching them is a red line.”

No one, he added, “can take a single drop of water from Egypt, and whoever wants to try it, let him try.”

Egypt relies on the Nile for its very survival. (AFP)

As recently as March this year, Egypt’s foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry, warned that on the issue of the dam “all options are open, all alternatives remain available.”

Since then, however, Sudan’s attitude toward the dam has appeared to ease, leaving Egypt increasingly isolated in its outspoken opposition to the project.

In Sudan in January, in addition to meeting Al-Burhan, Abiy also sat down for talks with Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, the leader of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, with whom the head of Sudan’s Sovereign Council is now locked in a bloody power struggle.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (R) walks alongside Sudanese Army Chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan at Khartoum Airport during a welcome ceremony on January 26, 2023. (AFP)

A statement issued by the council after the meeting welcomed the fact that Abiy had “confirmed that the Renaissance Dam will not cause any harm to Sudan but will have benefits for it in terms of electricity.” The two countries, it added, were “aligned and in agreement on all issues regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.”

But even as he worked to allay Sudanese fears over the dam, Abiy was walking a diplomatic tightrope between Al-Burhan and Dagalo.

Sudan’s army chief Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, right, and paramilitary leader Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo after the signing of a 2022 truce. (AFP)

In December, a framework agreement outlining a two-year transition to democracy was signed between the two generals and some Sudanese pro-democracy groups. On his visit to Khartoum in January, Abiy had supported the agreement, tweeting that he was “pleased to come back again and be amidst the wise and vibrant people of Sudan,” and adding that “Ethiopia continues to stand in solidarity with Sudan in their current self-led political process.”

But a prescient commentary in February by the head of a Khartoum think tank highlighted the tensions between the two generals.

A prolonged conflict in Sudan has the potential of posing a risk on the country's ties with Ethiopia. (AFP)

Kholood Khair, the founder and director of Confluence Advisory, told Africa Report: “When Abiy Ahmed visited Khartoum, he lent his support to the framework agreement, which favors Hemedti.

“By doing so, he is trying to get both generals on board ... they have diverging foreign policies, they have diverging income streams, they have diverging political constituencies domestically that they play to.

“Because you have that inherent divergence between the two generals, you get different and unpredictable sorts of power plays.”

Those power plays have now exploded into a conflict which Jordan-based Jemima Oakey, associate in Middle East and North Africa water and food security at London-based consultancy Azure Strategy, said has serious implications for the future management of the dam.

Jemima Oakey. (Supplied)

“Informal discussions were looking pretty positive,” she told Arab News. “From recent reports, Sudan certainly seemed to be coming to an arrangement with Ethiopia, while Egypt had begun to accept its new water reality and had begun developing adaptation measures through increasing the number of desalination plants and rehabilitating its irrigation networks.”

Now, she said, all-important regional cooperation on the management of the dam, for the benefit of Sudan and Egypt, as well as Ethiopia, may hinge on who emerges victorious from the current struggle.

In addition to generating electricity that could be supplied not only to the 60 percent of Ethiopians who currently have no access to mains power, but also to Sudan and Egypt, the dam promises to maximize agricultural yields, in Sudan especially, by ending the destructive cycle of floods and droughts caused by the seasonal variations in the flow of the Nile.

Proponents of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam argue that it could stop the destructive cycle of floods and droughts caused by the seasonal variations in the flow of the Nile in both Egypt and Sudan. (AFP)

But the only way this is going to work, Oakey noted, was “through a data-sharing agreement where water availability and water releases from the dam are clearly laid out and fairly divided between the Nile’s riparians, both through droughts and periods of high rainfall.

“(Right now) we have no idea of what the position of Hemedti on territorial disputes in the Al-Fashaga region in northern Ethiopia might be, if he might try to claim that region for Sudan, or whether he would lend support to rebel militias in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.

“Any of that could derail any agreements or understandings over access to the dam’s water flows, and really damage Sudan’s access to both water and electricity,” she added.

Ethiopian refugees gather to celebrate the 46th anniversary of the Tigray People's Liberation Front at Um Raquba refugee camp in Gedaref, eastern Sudan, on February 19, 2021. (AFP)

And she pointed out that such a development could also have serious consequences for Egypt.

“Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Egypt has been trying to expand its agriculture sector in order to become more self-sufficient in wheat production and make up for lost Ukrainian wheat imports, so they really need that water, and they need a reliable supply of it,” Oakey said.

“That’s why an agreement for water access and monitoring availability is so crucial.

“But if there’s a prolonged conflict in Sudan, that could really throw both Sudan’s and Egypt’s water and food security into massive uncertainty.”

One scenario, according to Oakey, was as unlikely as it was unthinkable, whatever happens in Sudan’s internal conflict: military action being taken by either side against the dam.

“Over the past few years there has been alarmist speculation in the media that GERD could be attacked in order to prevent its completion, but I seriously doubt that either side in the Sudan conflict would ever consider using this to secure a military advantage,” she said.

“There are now almost 73 billion cubic meters of water behind the dam. To destroy it and unleash that volume of water would inundate most of southern Sudan with catastrophic flooding, so no, no one is going to try that.”

A satellite image obtained courtesy of Maxar Technologies on July 21, 2020 shows the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and the Blue Nile River. (AFP)

But some experts hope that nature gets the same memo.

The possibility of a catastrophic failure of the dam has been raised in several academic papers over the past few years. These have highlighted “the high risk of soil instability” around the GERD site which, as one recent study by Egyptian civil and water engineers pointed out, was “located on one of the major tectonic plates and faults in the world.”

Around that fault, they added, about 16 earthquakes with a magnitude of 6.5 or higher had occurred in Ethiopia during the 20th century.

The first and largest of the sequence of devastating quakes that struck Turkiye and Syria in February, killing tens of thousands of people and causing widespread damage, had a magnitude of 7.8.

Hesham El-Askary, professor of remote sensing and Earth systems science at Chapman University in California, told Arab News that seismic risks, rather than the current conflict in Sudan, were the real threat to the dam that the world should be focused on.

A general view of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam near Guba in Ethiopia. (AFP)

“What really bothers me now is the possibility of tectonic moves in Ethiopia, which is the most tectonically active nation in Africa,” he said.

There was, he added, also evidence that dams could “exacerbate tectonic activities and slippage.

“We saw what happened in Turkiye, when dams were opened to ease water pressure on the crust.

“With the changing climate, what Ethiopia is doing is really serious and, with the situation in Sudan, no one can guess how this will all end up.”


Battle for the Nile
How will Egypt be impacted by Ethiopia filling its GERD reservoir ?





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Saudi Arabia invites Philippine expats, investors to join Vision 2030 projects

Saudi Arabia invites Philippine expats, investors to join Vision 2030 projects
Updated 09 June 2023

Saudi Arabia invites Philippine expats, investors to join Vision 2030 projects

Saudi Arabia invites Philippine expats, investors to join Vision 2030 projects
  • Philippine authorities are also eyeing the Kingdom’s expanding job market
  • Saudi ambassador sees opportunities in tourism, renewable energy, infrastructure

MANILA: Filipino expatriates play a vital role in Saudi-Philippine ties, Riyadh’s ambassador to Manila said on Friday, as he invited professionals and investors to join the Kingdom’s megaprojects under Vision 2030.
More than 800,000 Philippine expats live in Saudi Arabia, which is their preferred work destination abroad.
The overseas Filipino workers, or OFWs, are not only key drivers of the Philippine economy and main contributors to its foreign reserves but also — as officials often say — the country’s “ambassadors” all over the world.
In the context of Saudi Arabia, they are one of the main actors helping the Philippines develop and sustain good ties with the Kingdom.
“Filipino expatriates in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia play a vital role in strengthening the ties between our two nations. They contribute significantly to the Saudi economy and society through their hard work, skills, and dedication,” Saudi Ambassador to the Philippines Hisham S.A. Al-Qahtani told Arab News in an exclusive interview.
“Their presence has helped build bridges of understanding and friendship between our peoples. The Filipino community in Saudi Arabia serves as a strong bond, fostering cultural exchange, and enhancing cooperation in various sectors. Their contributions are highly valued and appreciated.”
Even more opportunities for the Philippines — in terms of work, investment and joint projects — are becoming available under the Saudi Vision 2030 economic diversification plan.
“The Philippines can support this vision by further strengthening bilateral trade and investment ties, exploring opportunities for joint ventures and partnerships, and sharing expertise in sectors of mutual interest,” Al-Qahtani said.
“The Kingdom welcomes Philippine businesses and investors to participate in its diversification efforts, particularly in non-oil sectors such as tourism, renewable energy, infrastructure, and human capital development.”
Human capital development reflects Saudi Arabia’s efforts to improve the professional competence of employees in its labor market and regulate the quality of employment, while ongoing clean energy and sophisticated infrastructure megaprojects aim to help the economy pivot away from its traditional dependency on fossil fuels.
Tourism, also, is currently a booming sector in the Kingdom as the government plans to triple its employment to 1.6 million people and contribution to gross domestic product to 10 percent by 2030.
“Saudi Arabia remains committed to providing opportunities for Filipino expatriates in various fields,” the Saudi ambassador said.
“Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 initiative has opened doors for economic diversification, investment, and innovation, which can create new prospects for Filipino expatriates. The Kingdom welcomes skilled and talented individuals from the Philippines to contribute to its development.”
Philippine officials have also been eyeing the emerging opportunities and last month announced they were in talks with Saudi authorities for a special mass hiring program that could see 1 million jobs for skilled Filipinos.
Philippine Department of Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople announced in late May that a delegation from the Saudi Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development was expected in Manila in June to develop the program.

Russia has received hundreds of Iranian drones to attack Ukraine: White House

Russia has received hundreds of Iranian drones to attack Ukraine: White House
Updated 09 June 2023

Russia has received hundreds of Iranian drones to attack Ukraine: White House

Russia has received hundreds of Iranian drones to attack Ukraine: White House
  • Washington says drones were built in Iran, shipped across Caspian Sea then used by Russian forces against Ukraine

WASHINGTON D.C.: The White House said on Friday that Russia appeared to be deepening its defense cooperation with Iran and had received hundreds of one-way attack drones that it is using to strike Ukraine.
Citing newly declassified information, the White House said the drones, or Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), were built in Iran, shipped across the Caspian Sea and then used by Russian forces against Ukraine.
“Russia has been using Iranian UAVs in recent weeks to strike Kyiv and terrorize the Ukrainian population, and the Russia-Iran military partnership appears to be deepening,” White House spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.
“We are also concerned that Russia is working with Iran to produce Iranian UAVs from inside Russia.”
Kirby said the US had information that Russia was receiving materials from Iran required to build a drone manufacturing plant that could be fully operational early next year.
“We are releasing satellite imagery of the planned location of this UAV manufacturing plant in Russia’s Alabuga Special Economic Zone,” he said.
The US has previously sanctioned Iranian executives at a defense manufacturer over drone supplies to Russia. Iran has acknowledged sending drones to Russia but said in they past they were sent before Russia’s February invasion. Moscow has denied its forces used Iranian drones in Ukraine.
Support between Iran and Russia was flowing both ways, Kirby said, with Iran seeking billions of dollars worth of military equipment from Russia including helicopters and radars.
“Russia has been offering Iran unprecedented defense cooperation, including on missiles, electronics, and air defense,” he said.
“This is a full-scale defense partnership that is harmful to Ukraine, to Iran’s neighbors, and to the international community. We are continuing to use all the tools at our disposal to expose and disrupt these activities including by sharing this with the public – and we are prepared to do more.”
Kirby said the transfers of drones constituted a violation of United Nations rules and the United States would seek to hold the two countries accountable.
Britain, France, Germany, the US and Ukraine say the supply of Iranian-made drones to Russia violates a 2015 UN Security Council resolution enshrining the Iran nuclear deal.
Under the 2015 UN resolution, a conventional arms embargo on Iran was in place until October 2020.
Ukraine and Western powers argue that the resolution includes restrictions on missiles and related technologies until October 2023 and can encompass the export and purchase of advanced military systems such as drones.
The Iranian and Russian missions to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the US accusations.
“We will continue to impose sanctions on the actors involved in the transfer of Iranian military equipment to Russia for use in Ukraine,” Kirby said.
He said a new US advisory issued on Friday aimed “to help businesses and other governments better understand the risks posed by Iran’s UAV program and the illicit practices Iran uses to procure components for it.”
The advisory highlighted key items sought by Iran for its development of drones, including electronics such as processors and controllers.

UK commits to anti-Daesh funding at Saudi meeting

UK commits to anti-Daesh funding at Saudi meeting
Updated 09 June 2023

UK commits to anti-Daesh funding at Saudi meeting

UK commits to anti-Daesh funding at Saudi meeting
  • Global Coalition Against Daesh convenes in Riyadh at invitation of Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan
  • Efforts turn to humanitarian drive across liberated northeast Syria, Iraq

LONDON: The UK’s minister for the Middle East attended the Saudi-hosted Global Coalition Against Daesh ministerial-level meeting in Riyadh on June 8, and pledged funding for anti-terrorism and humanitarian efforts in Iraq and Syria.
Lord Ahmad, minister of state for the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and UN, also highlighted the UK’s commitment to the coalition’s strategy of returning and reintegrating Iraqis displaced by Daesh violence.
The 86-member coalition met in Riyadh at the invitation of Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan.
Following the collapse of Daesh, the coalition’s efforts are now aimed at reintegrating internally displaced people through job training and anti-extremism drives, as well as meeting humanitarian challenges in Syria through direct funding.
Lord Ahmad outlined the UK’s commitment of £87.8 million ($110 million) toward countering Daesh over the next five years in northeast Syria and Iraq. The funding will support counterterrorism, stabilization and socioeconomic development in the region, a press release said.
As part of the UK’s efforts, the International Organization for Migration and the UN Development Program will both be supported in easing barriers to return for internally displaced Iraqis, including those in Syria’s Al-Hol camp.
Over the next two years, the UK will also provide £16 million to address the humanitarian disaster in northeast Syria, providing more than 75,000 people with aid, social support and programs to grant women access to education and jobs.
Lord Ahmad said: “Though territorially defeated, Daesh is a threat that continues to destroy lives — not only in liberated areas of Iraq and Syria, but also in Afghanistan and parts of Africa where its affiliates are active.
“I am proud of the UK’s continuing role in eradicating Daesh, including rebuilding communities affected by its terrorism, and leading global efforts against its poisonous propaganda.”
In a joint statement released by Prince Faisal and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the coalition highlighted its support for a lasting political settlement in Syria.
As part of maintaining stability in areas liberated from Daesh, “durable solutions” for former Daesh fighters detained in the Al-Hol and Roj camps must include humanitarian access and aid, the coalition added.
The UK’s funding commitment is part of a pledge drive launched by ministers targeting a goal of $601 million for liberated areas in Iraq and Syria.
Following the Riyadh meeting, Lord Ahmad will travel to Turkiye for a global diplomacy conference, marking the first UK ministerial visit to the country since the reelection of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on May 28.
The event in Turkiye will be chaired by Lord Ahmad’s counterpart, Deputy Foreign Minister Burak Akcapar, and will include discussions on Syria, Iran, Libya, Sudan and Ukraine.
Lord Ahmad said: “I look forward to visiting Istanbul to strengthen the UK’s important partnership with Turkiye and to discuss a broad range of foreign-policy issues.”

France hails ‘hero with a rucksack’ who intervened in knife attack on very young children

France hails ‘hero with a rucksack’ who intervened in knife attack on very young children
Updated 09 June 2023

France hails ‘hero with a rucksack’ who intervened in knife attack on very young children

France hails ‘hero with a rucksack’ who intervened in knife attack on very young children
  • French media hailed Henri as “the hero with a rucksack” Friday after he was shown in a video grappling with the assailant and charging after him during the knife attack
  • Henri had a heavy rucksack on his back and was holding another in his hand when the attacker slashed at him

LE PECQ, France: The attacker slashed at the 24-year-old man with the knife that he used to savagely stab one young child after another. But rather than run, Henri held his ground — using a weighty backpack he was carrying to swing at the assailant and parry his blade.
French media hailed Henri as “the hero with a rucksack” Friday after he was shown in a video grappling with the assailant and charging after him during the knife attack that critically wounded four children between the ages of 22 months and 3 years old, and also injured two adults.
Henri had a heavy rucksack on his back and was holding another in his hand when the attacker slashed at him. Even after being slashed at, Henri still continued to harass the attacker by pursuing him inside a playground — where the man repeatedly stabbed a child in a stroller — and then out of the park again, carrying his rucksacks all the while. He appeared to hurl one of the sacks at the assailant at one point and then pick it up again to take another swing.
Henri’s father, François, said he believed that his son’s dogged pursuit helped dissuade the attacker from stabbing more victims before police wrestled him to the ground.
“He took a lot of risks – when he wasn’t armed, with just his rucksacks,” the father told The Associated Press. “He didn’t stop running after him for many minutes, to stop him from coming back and massacring the kids even more. I think he prevented carnage by scaring him off. Really very courageous.”
François asked that their last name not be published, expressing concerns about their family being thrust suddenly and inadvertently into the public eye at a time of shock and outrage in France provoked by the viciousness of Thursday’s attack and the helplessness of its young victims.
The profile of the suspected attacker, a 31-year-old Syrian refugee, also fueled renewed political debate about French migration policies. Critics on the right and far-right of French politics quickly dusted off their arguments that French migration controls are too lax.
For his part, Henri shied away from the “hero” label. He said he “tried to act as all French people should act, or would act.”
“In that moment, you unplug your brain and react a bit like an animal by instinct,” he told broadcaster BFMTV. “It was impossible for me to witness that without reacting.”
“I am far from alone in having reacted. Many other people around started, like me, to run after him to try to scare him, push him away. And other people immediately went over to the children to take care of the injured.”
“I remember there was also a municipal worker who arrived from the right with a large plastic shovel to try to hit him,” Henri said.
French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said Friday that all four children underwent surgery for their life-threatening knife wounds and “are under constant medical surveillance.”
“Their situation is stable,” she said.
Government spokesman Olivier Veran, a medical doctor by training, said that two of the children remain in critical condition.
President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte traveled to a hospital treating three of the four children. Motives for the attack in and around a children’s lakeside playground in the Alpine town of Annecy remained unexplained. The suspect, who has refugee status in Sweden, remains in custody. Psychiatrists are evaluating him, Veran said.
Henri’s father said that in phone conversation after the attack, his son “told me that the Syrian was incoherent, saying lots of strange things in different languages, invoking his father, his mother, all the Gods.”
“In short, he was possessed by who knows what, but possessed by folly, that’s certain,” the father told the AP.
He said he did not show the disturbing video of the attack to his other children and his wife, and added that he and his wife had trouble sleeping even after learning that Henri was safe.
“We thanked providence and his guardian angels.,” he said.
Most of the children were rushed to a hospital in the French Alpine city of Grenoble — the first stop for Macron and his wife on Friday morning. They didn’t speak to reporters as they went inside.
The fourth wounded child was being treated in Geneva, in neighboring 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.
Portugal’s foreign ministry said that a Portuguese citizen was one of the two adults wounded.
“In the course of the tragic event, a Portuguese citizen, while trying to stop the attacker from fleeing from the police, was seriously injured and is now out of danger. For this act of courage and bravery, we thank him profoundly,” the ministry said.
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 didn’t appear to be terrorism-related. He was armed with a folding knife, she said.