PARIS, France — A four-year-old girl has been found hiding under the body of her mother – hours after police sealed off the scene of a brutal shooting in the French Alps, Agence France Presse reported.
The girl, who was uninjured, spent eight hours lying in the backseat of a British-registered car, which also contained the bodies of her grandmother and father.
London's Daily Telegraph identified the owner of the car as 50-year-old Iraqi national Saad Al-Hilli, from Claygate, Surrey. The paper also reported that he had worked for the Wiltshire-based aerial photography company AMS 1087. At this time, police are unsure if the owner of the car and the driver are the same person.
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The vehicle, an SUV, was found Wednesday afternoon, near the village of Chevaline, on the outskirts of Lake Annecy – though it wasn't until midnight when the traumatized little girl was spotted by forensic experts, AFP reported.
Eric Maillaud, a prosecutor in the Haute-Savoie region who is leading the investigation, said the four-year-old had remained “curled up” for eight hours and “didn't move in all that time." During a press conference earlier today, police defended their inability to locate the girl, saying that they were taking great care to not disturb the crime scene, and that the girl was not picked up by a helicopter with heat-seeking ability.
Maillaud said she spoke English, and could confirm that she heard noises and shouting. “But she can't tell us any more than that. She is only four years old,” he added.
The girl's older sister, aged seven, is said to be in a stable condition after she was found lying next to the car. She had been shot three times, once in the shoulder, and suffered head fractures. She was flown by helicopter to a hospital in nearby Grenoble, where she was put in an induced coma.
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The body of a local cyclist, who inadvertently passed by the scene of the attack, was also recovered Wednesday. Local newspaper Le Dauphine named him as 40-year-old father of three, Sylvain Mollier, from the township of Ugine. According to the Guardian, he is ex-RAF.
According to the BBC, the family had been coming to the end of their vacation, at the local Saint Jorioz campsite, when they were attacked.
While no weapon was found at the scene, France Info reported that more than a dozen spent bullet casings from an automatic pistol were taken into evidence.
No motive has been established for the shooting.