ALBI, France : A primary school in southern France was in shock Friday after a female teacher was stabbed to death in front of her pupils by a student’s mother, who was quickly detained.
The attack on the 34-year-old teacher took place around 9:00 am (0700 GMT) as morning classes began at Albi’s Edouard Herriot primary school, which is attended by 284 students aged from three to 11.
“This morning, a mother showed up with a knife and stabbed a 34-year-old teacher in front of her students, for reasons that will be determined by the investigation,” Albi prosecutor Claude Derens told AFP. “When I arrived at the scene they were trying to revive her. She was in cardiac arrest in her classroom,” he said.
The victim, a mother of two small children, taught in the school’s kindergarten.
Students and teachers were evacuated from the school immediately after the attack. No further details were immediately available and a press conference was planned for Friday afternoon.
It was not known if the mother’s child was in the class at the time of the stabbing. President Francois Hollande quickly sent Education Minister Benoit Hamon to the school to take charge of the government response.
“All state services will be mobilised to take care of these children and the staff who witnessed this awful tragedy,” Hollande said in a statement.
A spokesman for Hamon said he was on his way to the school to show his support, saying the education minister “is deeply shocked by this crime, which plunges the end of the school year into mourning.” “This tragedy confirms there is a need to fight against violence in and around schools, to protect schools, teachers and students.”
Prime Minister Manuel Valls also expressed his “dismay” at the incident. “The entire education community is in mourning today,” he said in a statement. “The investigation that has started should shed light on the circumstances of this tragedy,” Valls said.
The incident comes amid concerns in France over assaults by parents on teachers, with a study released on Thursday saying that education workers in France were twice as likely to be threatened and insulted than people in other professions.
The study by the INSEE state statistics agency found that 12 percent of education workers suffered threats and verbal abuse. Only 0.6 percent of education workers reported suffering physical attacks however.
Teachers under the age of 30 were more likely to be threatened or insulted, it said.
Another study released in April said nearly half of primary school principals reported being verbally or physically.
Of 4,000 principals questioned in the study, 49 percent said they had suffered from harassment, threats or insults in the 2012-13 school year.