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French Alps murders: 'Absolutely heartbreaking' (+video)

Two British girls, thought to be sisters, survived a shooting in the French Alps that killed four adults including those thought to be the children's parents. Police do not know the motive in the case.  

A four-year-old British girl was discovered alive and unhurt hours after police found four people killed and one wounded in a brutal shooting in southeastern France.
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A four-year-old British girl spent eight hours cowering among the bodies of three adults, thought to be her mother, father and grandmother, who were shot dead in a car in the French Alps.

The child, apparently on a family camping holiday from Britain, was found by police unhurt shortly before midnight on Wednesday huddled on the floor behind the front seats of the car, hidden under the legs and skirt of one of the dead women.

A second girl of about eight, thought to be her sister, had been found earlier with serious injuries having been shot in the shoulder and severely beaten on the head.

A French cyclist was also found shot dead at the scene on a mountain road near the village of Chevaline, close to the Annecy lake and the Swiss border. The man, a young father who lived in the area named Sylvain Mollier, "just happened to be riding by" at the time of the attack, officials said.

"I do not call this the work of professionals. I call it an act of enormous savagery," public prosecutor Eric Maillaud, who was visibly shaken, told a news conference in the town of Annecy, southeastern France.

Police had no idea of the motive, he said.

The owner of the UK-registered car, who was found dead at the wheel, was Iraqi-born Briton Saad al-Hilli from Surrey, southern England, a source close to the investigation told Reuters.

Police arrived at the scene at about 4 p.m. (1400 GMT) on Wednesday - shortly after the attack - after another cyclist, a British former air force officer, raised the alarm after coming across the car with its engine still running and the older girl stumbled out from behind it and collapsed at his feet.

Police protection 

The younger girl, too terrified to move or make a sound, went unnoticed for eight hours because investigators did not open the car doors in order not to disturb any evidence pending the arrival of forensic experts from Paris.

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