Four killed in attack on British car in French Alps beauty spot

Girl, 8, critically injured during incident that may have been an attempted robbery of family

Paris

Four people died yesterday in a brutal gun attack on a British-registered car in the French Alps after what police believe may have been an attempted robbery or hijacking.

An eight-year-old girl, apparently from the same family as three of the victims, was fighting for her life in a hospital in Grenoble last night after being shot three times. She was found beside a British-registered BMW four- wheel drive car in remote woodland five kilometres from the village of Chevaline, close to Lake Annecy.

The bodies of a man and two women were discovered in the car. The body of a cyclist was lying nearby.

Although the local prosecutor declined to comment on possible motives for the slaughter, a gendarmerie officer said the investigation would examine similarities with a series of robberies and attempted hijackings of tourist cars in France this summer.

Investigators will also look at possible connections with the discovery of human bones in the forest near the village of Chevaline, which has a population of 300, in June.

The identity of the car was confirmed last night, pointing to the "likelihood" that three victims were British, a gendarmerie spokesman said. However, he said that the identity of the victims, said to be in their 40s or 50s, had not yet been confirmed.

Initial reports suggested the girl had died from her wounds but French authorities said she was critically ill in hospital. She was flown from the murder scene by helicopter and had a series of operations.

Eric Maillaud, public prosecutor in Annecy, said: "All possible lines of inquiry remain open. A large number of gun cartridges, around 60, were found at the crime scene."

The bodies will remain in the wood overnight and post-mortems will be performed today or tomorrow.

The dead man was found in the driving seat of the vehicle in a public car park on a remote forest road – the Route de la Combe d'Ire in the wooded foothills of the Alps above Lake Annecy. The two women were in the back.

No firearms were found – apparently ruling out the possibility of a mass suicide or domestic quarrel. Bullet holes were found in the car.

The fourth victim was a male cyclist who was found lying beside his bike. Gendarmerie investigators were said to be examining the possibility that he interrupted a robbery.

The victims were discovered by another cyclist at about 3.50pm.

The mayor of Chevaline, Didier Berthollet, said villagers had told gendarmes that they had seen a car driving unusually fast through the village. "Never before have we witnessed such horror on our doorsteps," he said.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said it was aware of the incident and was looking into it urgently.

A local gendarmerie source said there had been a series of robberies, and attempted robberies, of tourist cars in France this summer and last. The possibility of a robbery or hijacking would be one of the lines of investigation, he added.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness