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Shootings at Annecy, France: Three victims shot in head


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France shootings: Three victims shot in head


1. Family staying at Le Solitaire du Lac camp site in Saint Jorioz

2. 15:50 (13:50 GMT) - Cyclist discovers murder scene at car park

3. 16:00 - French police alerted

4. Critically injured eight-year-old girl flown to hospital

5. Midnight - four-year-old girl found alive in car


Three of the four victims of a shooting in the French Alps were shot in the head, a French prosecutor has said.


One man, named by news agencies as Saad al-Hilli from Surrey, and an elderly woman were found dead in a British-registered car. A French cyclist, found close to the scene, was also killed. A British cyclist, an ex-RAF officer, discovered the scene near Lake Annecy. A second woman was also killed. A girl, four, hid in the car for eight hours before being found by police.


Annecy prosecutor Eric Maillaud said they were not looking for any more survivors. "It was clearly an act of extreme savagery and it was obvious that who did this wanted to kill," he said. The motive for the attack remains a mystery, he added. An automatic pistol was used, and the killer "targeted" the victims rather than indiscriminately firing into the car.


Another girl, found shot outside the car, has been transferred to a hospital in the city of Grenoble where she has been placed in a medically-induced coma. She was due to be operated on again. The girl - thought to be seven or eight years old - was shot once, and had head fractures. "She suffered a violent attack," Mr Maillaud said.


Both girls were under police protection in hospital. News agencies quoted sources as saying the dead driver was a 50-year-old man from Claygate, Surrey. Authorities have not confirmed this, saying only that they know who owns the car, and that the details matched the passport used to book a nearby campsite.


However, they could not match the driver's face with those details yet. Mr Maillaud also said Iraqi passports had been recovered, and that the older woman had a Swedish passport. Formal identification of all the bodies was ongoing.


The family had arrived on 3 September at the campsite and had expected to leave by the end of the week. Mr Maillaud said the British cyclist was passing along a road and saw a BMW with the engine still running. He saw the older girl collapsing in front of him, and helped her into a recovery position, then called firefighters. Mr Maillaud said "without doubt he saved the girl's life".


He then discovered the other cyclist, who had overtaken him earlier, dead on the road. He broke the driver's window of the car, and saw three bodies inside. The younger daughter was concealed beneath her mother and was not found until midnight. She spent Wednesday night in hospital, with a nurse by her side all night. Police said they had spoken briefly to her.


She was found "terrorised, motionless, in the midst of the bodies" after fellow guests at the campsite told officers the family had two children, Mr Maillaud said. In the UK, Surrey Police have said they are assisting the French authorities and liaising with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) following the shooting. "This is an ongoing investigation being carried out by the French police and we are unable to confirm any details about the incident," the Surrey force said in a statement.


A neighbour of Mr al-Hilli in Claygate, George Aicolina, said: "They were a very caring family and they always did things together. The father used to read to the girls quite regularly. It's an almighty shock. I was speechless [when I heard] and cried for a while. It's very sad to happen to such a young and lovely family. They were well established in the area, the two girls went to a local school. It's very difficult for me to talk about."


He said the young girls "played like kids do and it's very difficult to see how they will cope without a father and mother."


Many French web users have expressed incomprehension at the fact that the youngest girl was only discovered eight hours after police arrived. "How can you know that the occupants of the car were dead if nobody opened the doors for 8 hours?" wrote Maria on the website of the daily newspaper Le Monde. It was not until 23:00 local time (21:00 GMT) that police found out from the family's neighbours at the campsite that the family had a second daughter, and launched a search involving a helicopter and police dogs, one report said.


Police had believed only one child was involved with the scene because only one child seat was found in the car. The investigators said there were several reasons why the youngest girl was not found earlier, including that police were told not to disturb the scene before the arrival of forensic investigators; and they did not want to compromise the ballistics investigation by opening the car doors because some of the windows had cracks made by the bullets.


Earlier reports said a helicopter with thermal imaging was also used, but did not detect the girl, who may have been concealed under the bodies. Officials at the scene also tried to look through the car windows, but could not detect any movement. The dead French cyclist was identified as Sylvain Mollier. His wife contacted police after he failed to return from his ride.



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