Sep 11 2012
Four people shot dead in the French Alps were killed with the same gun, police say, fuelling speculation they were targeted by a contract killer.
French investigators revealed each person was shot twice in the head in a secluded car park in the Combe d'Ire forest, near Chevaline.
Saad al-Hilli, 50, from Surrey, was killed in the family car during a holiday, alongside his dentist wife Iqbal in a remote spot close to Lake Annecy. Mrs al-Hilli's mother also died in the shooting along with Sylvain Mollier, 45, a French cyclist who apparently stumbled across the shooting on Wednesday.
The couple's seven-year-old daughter, Zainab al-Hilli, was shot and so brutally beaten during the attack that doctors placed her in a medically-induced coma. She has since regained consciousness and was able to hold a brief discussion with officers in France, sources close to the investigation have said.
Zainab is seen as a key witness to the horrific attack that left her parents and grandmother dead. Her younger sister Zeena, four, who survived by cowering behind her mother, has flown back to Britain with carers.
Detailed ballistic analysis of 25 spent cartridges found at the scene revealed they all came from a 7.65mm automatic pistol, according to local reports. French police are also examining two mobile phones found in the al-Hilli's bullet-ridden BMW, just a few miles from Le Solitaire du Lac, a campsite in Saint-Jorioz where they were staying.
Meanwhile, witnesses have described seeing a green four-wheel-drive vehicle in the area at the time of the killings, and possibly a motorbike.
One man, thought to be one of the last people to see the family alive, told reporters the family had arrived at the isolated car park at least an hour before the murders. Laurent Fillion-Robin, 38, said there was no sign of any vehicle following the group when he watched the red British-registered BMW drive past between 2.30pm and 3pm. He heard no gun shots.
The spotlight in the criminal investigation has turned on the al-Hilli family home in the affluent village of Claygate in Surrey after police identified items of concern and called in a bomb disposal squad from the Royal Logistic Corps.
Neighbouring properties were evacuated as experts examined the mock-Tudor house, focusing on a shed at the bottom of the garden. But officers later said that the unidentified items were not hazardous.