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
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Interactive / Mobile Developer

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Midweight

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Front End Developer

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Front End Developer - Midweight / Senior

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks