Journalists wait in front of Gendarmes, who block access to the site of a killing near Chevaline, French Alps.

Annecy, France - A quadruple murder in the French Alps was an act of “extreme savagery”, the prosecutor in charge of the investigation into the shooting said Thursday.

Eric Maillaud said he could not say whether Wednesday's attack targeting a family in a British car and a cyclist who was passing by had the hallmarks of a professional killing.

But he told a press conference: “It was clearly an act of extreme savagery and it was obvious that whoever did this wanted to kill.”

Maillaud said the elder of the two women killed was a Swedish national, and an Iraqi passport had also been found. The man found dead in the driver's seat was earlier identified as Saad al-Hilli, a 50-year-old who was born in Baghdad but living in Britain.

Maillaud said the cyclist who came across the grisly murder scene near the village of Chevaline was a Royal Air Force veteran who had been overtaken minutes earlier by the cyclist whose body was found by the car.

He said the the elder of the two girls who survived the shooting though badly wounded had been placed in an induced coma ahead of further surgery.

The prosecutor said the girl's life was not in danger but revealed that she had been shot in the shoulder and suffered “extremely violent” blows to the head during Wednesday's attack.

The younger girl was found physically unscathed inside the car. - Sapa-AFP