4 found shot dead around UK car in French Alps

September 5, 2012 - 4:50 PM
France Bodies Found

Gendarmes block access to a killing site near Chevaline, French Alps, Wednesday Sept. 5, 2012. French authorities say at least four people have been shot to death in a forest in the Alps.An official with the regional administration for the Haute-Savoie region says three of the bodies were found in a BMW registered in Britain. (AP Photo/Alexis Moro)

PARIS (AP) — Four people were found shot to death on a forest road in the French Alps on Wednesday, their bodies left in and near a car with British license plates, authorities said. A girl discovered at the site with bullet wounds was hospitalized.

Police combed the wooded hills around the village of Chevaline into the night in search of possible perpetrators. Forensic experts were heading to the site where a startled cyclist came across the corpses during a leisure ride.

Two of the victims were women, two men, police said. But their identities and nationalities are unclear. The British Foreign Office said it was aware of reports of the incident and was looking into it.

The girl was in critical condition Wednesday night in a nearby hospital, said an official with the gendarme service for the Haute-Savoie region. The official was not authorized to be publicly named. The gendarme service — a kind of police force — had initially said that she died.

A cyclist on the rugged road discovered the bodies and the girl in the afternoon and alerted emergency authorities, Prosecutor Eric Maillaud said.

Three bodies were found in a BMW sports utility vehicle registered in Britain — a male driver and two women in the back seat, Maillaud said. The body of a male cyclist was found nearby, and the wounded girl was found near the vehicle. A large number of bullet casings were scattered around the car.

About 60 officers fanned out in the forest to search for possible perpetrators, a gendarme captain at the site said on French television.

Police blocked off the road where the bodies were found. A sign at the mouth of the route reads "Dangerous Road" in French, English and German, in reference to its rough terrain.

Autopsies are planned for Thursday or Friday, the prosecutor said.

The bodies were found in an area in the foothills of the Alps known for its springs and waterfalls, not far from Lake Annecy.

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Cassandra Vinograd in London contributed to this report.