French Alps Shooting: Three British Dead From Gunshot To Head, Fourth Death Unexplained (PICTURES)

'An Act Of Gross Savagery' Details Emerge Over Deaths Of Family In French Alps (PICTURES)

UPDATE: The family were named by neighbours today as husband Saad al-Hilli, wife Iqbal, a trainee dentist, and daughters Zainab, seven, and Zeena, four.

A terrified four-year-old girl was found clinging to her mother's leg and hiding under her skirt, eight hours after police found the shot dead bodies of her family, after an "act of gross savagery" at a beauty spot in the French Alps.

At a lunchtime press conference, details emerged of the four dead found by a British cyclist.

Public prosecutor Eric Maillaud said three of the four people shot dead when a gunman opened fire on a British family in the Haute-Savoie region were hit in the middle of the head.

A gendarme stands by the caravan where the slain British family were holidaying in a camp site of Saint Jorioz, near Annecy

He refused to speculate on their identities or their relationship with each other, but said they were believed to be a family, with a father, an older woman who was middle-aged, a young woman, and two young girls, aged seven and four.

The four-year-old survived by hiding under the front seat, and the seven-year-old was found badly beaten, lying on the ground.

Maillaud said it was impossible to identify who was killed first, and would not speculate on how the fourth person, the younger woman, was killed. On one side of the car the windows had been broken.

A British cyclist, who Maillaud said was a former member of the Royal Air Force, discovered the bodies.

He had been cycling along the paths leading to a car park where the shooting took place, and another cyclist overtook him.

Arriving at the scene, he saw the body of Sylvain Mollier, the cyclist who had overtaken him, and the seven-year-old girl lying wounded.

Gendarmerie Col. François, left, and Annecy prosecutor Eric Maillaud near the site, in the Haute-Savoie region

Maillaud praised the British cyclist for his clear head, as he had put the girl in the recovery position and called emergency services. "He is to be congratulated for his bravery," Maillaud said.

Maillaud urged the press not to comment on the identities of the family. They had identified the owner of the car, with a British licence plate, but had not confirmed the owner was the driver.

He said a Swedish passport and an Iraqi passport had been linked to the older woman in the car, and a British passport belonging to the driver had been found.

"All leads are being pursued, and there has been a lot of speculation, but the fact is that we simply do not know what happened here. It is very complicated to identify if one or more guns were used."

Police officers said they would have lost vital evidence had they opened the car doors with the bodies in there. "Night fell quite quickly and the combing was perhaps not sufficient," a police spokesman said.

A family staying next door to the British family at the campsite had alerted police that there were two children, not one. It was only then, at 11pm and after eight hours of investigation, that police found the cowering four-year-old.

Hearses leave the the site of a shooting rampage that left four adults dead and a 7-year-old girl hospitalized near Chevaline, French Alps

The two girls are now under "extremely high protection".

Maillard said the younger girl was "physically very well" but had immediately asked for her family.

"Can you imagine the state of the young girl, four years old, has spent eight hours under a body that was not moving?

"She is in deep distress and is being looked after by a child psychologist and nurse who were with her through the night."

The elder girl has had one operation and is due to have another operation on Thursday afternoon. She was badly injured on her head and shoulders.

AFP has reported the driver of the car was Baghdad-born Saad al-Hilli, 50, from Claygate, Surrey.

Police stand in the garden of a house in Claygate believed to be owned by a British family murdered in a shooting in the French Alps

The media gathered outside Mr al-Hilli's home address in Claygate, Surrey on Thursday afternoon.

Two plain-clothed police officers stood outside the two-storey detached house before three uniformed officers arrived.

Two of the officers were then seen entering a gate at the side of the property.

Neighbour Jason Kosbab, who said he did not know Mr al-Hilli's family, said: "Claygate is a very close knit village. This is certainly going to bring everybody together."

Investigators have begun inspecting a caravan used by the family at the campsite Le Solitaire du Lac, at Saint-Jorioz.

The family had arrived there on 3 September and was due to leave this week.

The Telegraph reported that Mr Al Hilli is understood to have been the secretary of a Wiltshire-based aerial photography company, AMS 1087, since 2007 and the family had been in the UK for at least a decade.


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