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By Anna Mehler Paperny

(Reuters) - A young girl, her parents and grandmother were found shot to death in their rural home in the east-coast Canadian province of Nova Scotia on Tuesday in what a family member described as a murder-suicide by an Afghanistan veteran suffering from PTSD.

Police said the girl's father appeared to have shot himself.

Family member Catherine Hartling identified the father as 33-year-old Canadian Forces veteran Lionel Desmond and said she believed he had shot his daughter, his wife and his mother before killing himself.

Hartling told Reuters that Desmond had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following his military service in Afghanistan and had not received proper treatment for the condition.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said in a statement on Wednesday that all four victims died of gunshot wounds, but did not identify who killed the women and girl.

Police said they were called on Tuesday evening to the home in Upper Big Tracadie, N.S. and there was no indication of an intruder.

Hartling said her niece Shanna Desmond, 31, was among the four killed, along with Shanna's 10-year-old daughter Aaliyah and Lionel's mother Brenda Desmond.

In a telephone interview, Hartling said Lionel Desmond should have been offered more help for PTSD after he returned from Afghanistan about eight years ago.

Canada's military has come under criticism for not adequately helping armed-forces veterans suffering from PTSD after serving in Afghanistan.

The deaths have left the region's tightly-knit black community reeling, said Hartling, who like the victims is black.

RCMP said officers found two guns on the scene and continue to search the area. Police plan to hold a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

(Reporting by Anna Paperny in Toronto; Editing by Andrew Hay)

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