Four tourists murdered in Toulouse

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POLICE IN south-western France were baffled yesterday by the barbaric and apparently motiveless murder of four Dutch tourists at a holiday home near Toulouse.

Three of the victims, all in their fifties and sixties, were tied hand and foot and gagged before their throats were cut. The fourth was shot in the throat. Nothing appeared to have been stolen from the house, which belonged to one of the couples.

The public prosecutor for the area, Guy Etienne, described the murders as a "horrible crime of enormous savagery, even barbarity". He said the possibility of a triple murder followed by a suicide, had been considered by investigators and rejected.

Two of the victims were identified as Artie Van Hulst, 50, a factory owner, and his wife, Marianne, also 50. The others were Marianne's sister, Dora Vandam, and her husband, Jowan Nieuwenhuizen, both 61.

Another Dutch couple visited the house, near Montfort in the departement of Gers, and found it shuttered and dark. Mystified, they returned the next day and found two of the bodies.