French police have fanned out across southeastern France in search of a rapist who is targeting young girls in campsites.

After an 11-year-old girl was assaulted as she slept in a tent on a campsite in Saint-Didier-sous-Aubenas in the Ardeche region, police officials linked it to other similar rapes in the area since late June.

Agence France Presse reported that up to seven girls between the ages of 7 and 12 have been attacked over the past six weeks.

Campsite owners in the region have stepped up security to protect campers.

AFP reported that the suspect is believed to be a 40-year-old man.