The young victims of a horrifying acid attack in France have called for their alleged attacker to not be vilified, as “mental illness is not a choice”.
The four US college students were attacked at Saint-Charles station in Marseille and later rushed to hospital when two of the girls, both in their early 20s, had acid thrown on their faces.
Their alleged attacker, who was described by police as a mentally unstable 41-year-old woman, was arrested after the shocking incident on Sunday morning.
As part of a heartwarming message while updating friends and family on their conditions, one of the victims, Michelle Krug, asked those who sent their “thoughts and prayers” to also consider the attacker.
Just hours after the attack, she wrote on Facebook: “To fill in those who have not heard, three of my friends and I were attacked this morning at a Marseille train station by a woman suffering from a mental illness.
“She threw a weak solution of hydrochloric acid at us from a water bottle, which got in one of my eyes and one of my friend's eyes.
She added: “I ask that if you send thoughts and prayers our way, please consider thinking about/praying for our attacker so that she may receive the help she needs and deserves. Mental illness is not a choice and should not be villainized.”
All four victims, who are students at Boston College, were treated for their injuries in hospital.
Ms Krug added that they are “anticipating a quick recovery”.
Courtney Siverling, who was among the group, thanked those who had “reached out” to them after news broke of the incident, adding that she hoped their attacker would be “healed from her mental illness”.
“Thank you so much to everyone who has reached out to see if I'm ok and/or has been praying for us. I did not receive any injuries from the attack in Marseille this morning and we are all safe,” she wrote on social media.
“I pray that the attacker would be healed from her mental illness in the name of Jesus and receive the forgiveness and salvation that can only come from him.”
The two women, along with friends Charlotte Kaufman and Kesley Korsten, were travelling to Paris from Marseille when the woman threw hydrochloric acid at them shortly after 11am.
Social media users were quick to praise the students for their “beautiful” response to the attack, with one commenter saying: “What a beautiful heart you have.”
One wrote: “Oh my, Michelle. I'm glad you are recovering, and I think your post is graceful and powerful. Amazing and beautiful”, with another adding: “Thanks for your inspiring outlook-- I am glad you are okay.”
The Boston College students are enrolled in the school's Paris program, while Kesley Korsten was studying at Copenhagen Business School in Denmark when the incident happened, reports NBC news.