British girl, 11, shot dead as she played on swings in family home in France

Her eight-year-old sister alerted neighbours after mother and father also wounded in attack

Shweta Sharma
Monday 12 June 2023 08:58 BST
Forensic search was launched at Saint Herbot home of girl
Forensic search was launched at Saint Herbot home of girl (TF1)

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An 11-year-old girl from a British family was shot dead in France while her father was seriously wounded following the attack.

The girl was playing on the swings while her family was enjoying a barbecue in their garden on Saturday night when a neighbour fired several shots at them.

The incident happened at around 10pm local time in the village of Saint-Herbot in Brittany, western France.

The suspect – a 71-year-old Dutch national – was arrested along with his wife, prosecutors said.

Her father, who was reportedly shot in the head, is in a critical condition at a hospital. Her mother received non-life-threatening injuries.

The girl’s eight-year-old sister managed to escape unhurt but was left in a state of “shock” after witnessing the shooting.

A British foreign office spokesperson said they were providing assistance to the family.

“We are providing consular assistance to a British family following a shooting in France and are in contact with the local authorities,” a statement said.

Carine Halley, a prosecutor in Brittany’s Quimper, said the child died immediately and the father was rushed to the hospital in a critical condition, according to The Times.

Police suspect elderly neighbour behind attack
Police suspect elderly neighbour behind attack (TF1)

She said initial evidence suggests "the suspect suddenly emerged armed with a gun and fired several times towards the victims” and shut himself in his house along with his wife.

“The motives for this tragedy are not yet known. It appears there had been a conflict between the two neighbours for several years over a piece of land adjoining the two properties,” Ms Halley said.

Marguerite Bleuzen, the mayor of Plonévez-du-Faou, said the attack was believed to be in connection to a land “dispute between neighbours” from past three years.

“We knew the family well. There is a village fete every year and they always came,” she said.

“It’s completely incomprehensible to have shot a child. This happened without any warning,” she added. “Nobody can understand how this could have happened.”

Saint-Herbot in Brittany, where a British schoolgirl was shot dead on Sunday 12 June
Saint-Herbot in Brittany, where a British schoolgirl was shot dead on Sunday 12 June (The Independent)

A local resident said that the younger girl raised the alarm after the shooting, shouting: "My sister is dead, my sister is dead".

“We heard noises and thought they – either the children or the parents – were playing with fireworks. Then the youngest girl came running to the neighbours shouting,” the neighbour who was not named said.

“We went and saw the girl was dead and her father and mother were injured.”

The killing of the British girl comes just days after another three-year-old British girl was among four children and two adults who were stabbed in a park by a man in Annecy in eastern France.

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