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Published On: Thu, Sep 6th, 2012

Small girl hides for hours among dead bodies survives shooting in France

Authorities believe a child, age 4, hid for hours in a car with the bodies of two women and one man after a shooting in the Alps.

France police says the child, along with another 7-8 year-old found injured near the vehicle appear to be the lone survivors.

Both children are in police protection, as the older girl suffered a fractured skull and an apparent bullet wound to the shoulder.

For as long as eight hours, the small girl hid, unnoticed, in a car with the bodies, even as crime scene technicians arrived and opened the car.

Prosecutor Eric Maillaud told reporters Thursday that investigators failed to notice the younger girl because she didn’t move for hours as they waited for the forensic experts.

Photo/David.Monniaux

She was hidden under baggage and the legs of one of the dead women in the car’s back seat. A thermal imaging camera failed to pick up her presence, Maillaud said.

The child was “probably terrorized, completely concealed, completely immobile amid the corpses,” he said.

Authorities have not identified the three Britons found dead on Wednesday in the car near Lake Annecy, a popular tourist spot in the Haute-Savoie area of eastern France.

A fourth victim, a French cyclist found shot in the head near the car, has been named as Sylvain Mollier.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said he and French President Francois Hollande discussed the “terrible killings of … the British family” during a meeting Thursday in London. He promised British authorities will cooperate “very closely with the French authorities” to “help those poor children” and “get to the bottom of what happened in this clearly very tragic and awful case.”

“Both a French and a British family have been impacted by this terrible event, and we will do our utmost to identify the perpetrators,” added Hollande in a joint press conference after the two leaders’ meeting.

Maillaud, the French prosecutor, has called the shootings an act of “extreme savagery” but has declined to speculate on a motive.

“The scene is dramatic, it’s unusual — it goes well beyond TV fiction,” he said.

Multiple bullet casings had surrounded the BMW when authorities came upon it, with bullet holes peppering its windows but none in the body of the car, according to the prosecutor.

The driver and an older woman found dead in the car had been shot in the head, Maillaud said, “and it was obvious that (whoever) did this wanted to kill.”

Autopsies are scheduled Friday and should reveal how the other passenger, a younger woman, died.

The car was registered to a man with an Iraqi passport who was a naturalized British citizen and had lived in Britain since at least 2002, he said. The passport was used when the visitors checked in to the campsite where they were staying, Maillaud said, but police can’t yet confirm whether it belonged to the man who was found dead in the car.

French and British news reports have identified one victim as Saad al-Hilli, an Iraqi-born engineer who lived in Claygate in Surrey, south of London, with his wife and two daughters.

While CNN couldn’t independently confirm the identities of the victims, Surrey Police have said they are helping police in Annecy with their investigation into the killings, though they haven’t given further details.

Officers from Surrey Police were stationed Thursday outside the house identified by neighbors as that of Saad al-Hilli.

Neighbor Jack Saltman, whose home backs onto the family’s garden, said al-Hill and his wife had come from Iraq “many years” ago and both spoke “perfect English.”

“They were a delightful family,” Saltman said.

Maillaud said the two children, who are British, are being kept under police protection in case of possible threats to their safety.

“You can imagine in an inquiry all possible scenarios can be investigated, including that someone wanted to get rid of additional witnesses,” he said.

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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  1. Zaid Al-Hilli, brother of Saad Al-Hilli, arrested in connection with Alps murders - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] in connection to the murder of his brother Saad al-Hilli, an Iraqi-born British engineer, was found shot dead in September 2012 with his wife and mother-in-law in their BMW car on a remote mountain road near the village of Chevaline, with the body of a […]

  2. Cassidy Goodson, Florida teen arrested, newborn found in shoebox as she lied about ‘miscarriage’ - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] Girl, age 4, survives assassination of family, hides with dead bodies […]

  3. Chinese protester crushed under steamroller, okayed by government official GRAPHIC PHOTOS - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] Girl, age 4, survives assassination of family, hides with dead bodies […]

  4. Authorities believe Sylvain Mollier, the French cyclist, was the target of the Alps shooting - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] Now police have suggested that slain French cyclist Sylvain Mollier could have been the target of the French Alps shootings, which claimed the lives of the British al-Hilli family. […]

  5. Sylvain Mollier, Alps shooting victim, father of 3, in ‘wrong place at wrong time’ - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] The man, named locally as Sylvain Mollier, suffered gunshot wounds and was found dead close to where the bodies of a man and two women were found in a BMW in Haute Savoie. […]

  6. Zainab al-Hilli, 7-year-old Alps shooting victim, comes out of coma - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] al-Hilli, the seven-year-old girl shot and injured in an attack in the French Alps which left her parents dead, has been brought out of a coma. Saad […]

  7. Saad Al-Hilli, killed in brutal Alps shooting, may have ties to defense companies - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] very brutal shooting in the Alps, taking the lives of three adults remains headlines throughout […]

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