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Wedding guest held in hunt for missing nine-year-old girl

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Maelys disappeared during a wedding (Gendarmerie Nationale via AP)

Maelys disappeared during a wedding (Gendarmerie Nationale via AP)

Maelys disappeared during a wedding (Gendarmerie Nationale via AP)

French police have detained a wedding guest for questioning in connection with the search for a nine-year-old girl who went missing at a weekend wedding party in the Alps.

The 34-year-old was detained on Thursday, prosecutor Dietlind Baudoin said in a statement.

She warned against jumping to conclusions, saying police wanted to clarify the whereabouts of a guest who left the celebrations around when the girl disappeared in Pont-de-Beauvoisin, 85 kilometres (53 miles) from Lyon in south-eastern France.

The detained person is a man, according to another official close to the police investigation.

"This is horrendous. I hope we are going to find her," said Joelle Martin, mayor of the nearby village of Saint-Martin de Vaulserre, who attended the wedding.

Ms Martin described Pont-de-Beauvoisin as usually "extremely calm".

"People are calm, quiet, we all know each other. I can't explain this disappearance. But I trust our police," she said.

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Police search notices identified the girl as Maelys and said she was wearing a white sleeveless dress and white sandals when she was last seen at around 3am local time on Sunday at the celebrations in Pont-de-Beauvoisin's village hall.

Some 85 police officers are still involved in the search.

"The important thing is to find the most material leads possible," said Captain Cedric Sommen, a police commander involved in the operation.

"It's the investigators who will be coming little by little to take into account what we've found and judge their importance to the case."

Police dogs found the girl's trace but lost it in the village hall's car park, suggesting she may have got into a car.

The prosecutor has opened a kidnapping investigation.

Police have combed wooded slopes and streams, questioned potential witnesses and examined photos and videos taken by wedding guests for any possible clues.

AP


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