Alps shooting police evacuate homes

Police investigating the French Alps shooting spree today evacuated an area around the victims’ home in Surrey due to “concerns” about items found at the address.

Alps shooting police evacuate homes

Police investigating the French Alps shooting spree today evacuated an area around the victims’ home in Surrey due to “concerns” about items found at the address.

Neighbours living close to the property in the affluent village of Claygate were prevented from returning to their houses as detectives examined the mock-Tudor house for clues.

Police said in a statement: “Surrey Police can confirm that due to concerns around items found at the address ... officers have extended the cordon surrounding the property.

“Neighbours in the immediate area are being temporarily evacuated.”

Members of the media were also moved back around 200 yards.

Attention on the property intensified as police in Annecy in France waited to question seven-year-old Zainab al-Hilli, who has regained consciousness following the attack that left her parents dead.

Her father Saad al-Hilli, 50, was murdered in his car alongside his dentist wife, Iqbal, on Wednesday while the family holidayed in the picturesque region.

Mrs al-Hilli’s mother also died in the shooting along with Sylvain Mollier, 45, a French cyclist who apparently stumbled across the attack.

Zainab’s younger sister Zeena, four, who survived after she hid behind her mother, flew back to Britain with carers yesterday.

Soon after the cordon was extended, a Royal Logistic Corps bomb disposal truck arrived.

Officers were seen apparently receiving a briefing at a neighbouring home.

Police plan to look at aspects of Mr al-Hilli’s life to try to find a motive for the murders and also speak with his brother, Zaid Hilli.

Investigators have disclosed that Mr al-Hilli’s brother has approached UK police to deny any feud with his sibling over an inheritance.

Police have yet to speak to Zainab, who was shot and beaten during the ordeal and is seen as a key witness.

She remains under sedation after coming out of a medically-induced coma.

Public prosecutor Eric Maillaud said the child will be interviewed as soon as doctors allow it.

Her sister returned to the UK after two relatives – reportedly an aunt and uncle – travelled to France over the weekend alongside a British social worker and family liaison officers from Surrey Police.

The youngster is now under the care of the authorities and the social services, but Mr Maillaud revealed he did not know where she was going to stay.

British police are now working alongside their French counterparts to unravel the mystery surrounding the four deaths.

Officers first entered the al-Hillis’ family home on Saturday after a team of four French investigators, led by Colonel Marc de Tarle, arrived in the UK.

It is believed detectives are looking into Mr al-Hilli’s professional life for possible clues. He worked as a contractor for a satellite technology company in Surrey.

Witnesses have said they saw a green four-wheel-drive vehicle in the area at the time of the killings, and possibly a motorbike.

Investigators found 25 spent bullet cartridges at the scene – a car park in the Combe d’Ire forest near Chevaline – while two mobile phones found in the al-Hilli’s bullet-ridden BMW are being analysed by police.

Each of the four victims of the atrocity was shot twice in the head.

One theory is that shots could have been fired during a bungled armed robbery, with Mr Mollier being a witness to the crime.

But speculation about other possible motives, including a pre-planned attack by professional hitmen, remained rife.

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 they were killed.

Laurent Fillion-Robin, 38, also said there was no sign of any vehicle following the family.

The builder said he was working on a house in Chevaline when he saw the red British-registered BMW drive past between 2.30pm and 3pm. The shooting was reported to police just before 4pm.

Mr Fillion-Robin added that he did not hear any shots fired that afternoon and said the car park, near Lake Annecy, was not the sort of place that families with young children would usually go.

Some media reports have suggested that Mr al-Hilli, an engineer who left Saddam Hussein’s Iraq several years ago, was known to the security services and was put under surveillance by Metropolitan Police Special Branch during the second Gulf war.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said they could not comment. But it is understood there is no link between the deaths and any national security issues.

Mr Maillaud revealed the family had visited France a number of times before and it was not the first time they had been to Le Solitaire du Lac, a campsite in Saint-Jorioz they were staying at when the attack happened.

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