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British girl shot dead in family garden in western France

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PARIS (Reuters) – An 11-year-old British girl has been shot dead in the garden of her home in Brittany, western France, following a years-long dispute between neighbours over land, the local prosecutor and a town hall official said.

The family were enjoying a warm evening on Saturday in their garden in the small village of Saint Herbot, near Quimper, when a Dutch neighbour shot at them several times, the prosecutor said.

The girl’s parents were both hurt, with her father suffering life-threatening wounds, the prosecutor said. The couple’s second daughter, aged eight, was unharmed but in a state of shock.

“Initial evidence suggests the victims’ neighbour, a 71-year-old Dutch pensioner, suddenly appeared armed with a firearm and fired several shots in the direction of the victims … before retreating to his home with his wife,” the Quimper prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

The Dutchman surrendered when a police negotiator coaxed him out of his property.

The local prosecutor said the motive was not immediately clear but that the two families had been embroiled in a years-long row over a plot of land adjoining the two properties.

Britain’s Foreign Office said it was providing consular assistance to a British family following a shooting.

Regine Guillot, secretary of the nearest town hall in Plonevez-du-Faou, said the British family had lived in the hamlet for five years and that the Dutch neighbour was a private man.

“There were neighbourhood issues, yes, a hedge, a field, but nothing more than that, not that we were aware of,” Guillot told Reuters. “The village is in shock.”

The case has been handed to the public prosecutor in Brest given its gravity.

The shooting comes just days after a British toddler was among four children and two adults stabbed in the tranquil town of Annecy in the French Alps.

(Reporting by Juliette Jabkhiro and Elizabeth Pineau in Paris; writing by Richard Lough; editing by Nick Macfie)

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