Alps shootings: Bomb squad visits Saad al-Hilli home

media captionSurrey Police called the Army bomb disposal unit after concerns over items found in the garden shed

Army bomb disposal experts have visited the Surrey home of a British man, shot dead with his wife, mother-in-law and a cyclist in the French Alps last week.

Neighbours of Saad al-Hilli in Claygate were evacuated as items in a garden shed were examined but police later said they were not "hazardous".

Meanwhile, French police have confirmed the death of Mr al-Hilli's 74-year old mother-in-law, but have not named her.

The al-Hillis' eldest daughter Zainab has been brought out of a coma.

The seven-year-old was shot and injured during the attack last week. Her four-year-old sister, Zeena, has returned to the UK.

Zeena lay undiscovered for eight hours after her parents, her grandmother, and a local cyclist died in Wednesday's attack in Chevaline.

French and British investigators, including Surrey Police firearms officers, started examining the Claygate home of Mr al-Hilli, 50, on Saturday as part of an attempt to establish a motive for the murders which took place during the family's camping holiday.

image captionMr al-Hilli's daughters are believed to be the only witnesses to Wednesday's killings

Officers from the Royal Logistics Corps bomb disposal unit arrived at the family home after concerns were raised by Surrey Police.

They spent about two hours at the property before leaving shortly after midday.

An extended cordon, put up around the property while the explosives experts were there, has since been relaxed and residents have returned to their homes.

Surrey Police said: "The items were found... when the search of the property was extended from the main building to outbuildings in the garden. A bomb disposal unit was called to the scene to carry out an assessment as a precautionary measure."

A cordon around the house and gardens will remain in place as the search of the property continues.

Surrey Police said earlier that the investigation is French-led, with British officers facilitating requests rather than following their own leads.

On Sunday, French prosecutor Eric Maillaud has said seven-year-old Zainab is still under sedation and will not be able to be questioned for several more days.

Mr Maillaud said her sister Zeena has returned to the UK.

The French prosecutor said: "She returned to the UK by air. On arrival she was put under the care of the authorities and the social services."

In an earlier briefing, Mr Maillaud told reporters Zeena had been interviewed, but he did not see a need to speak to her again as she "did not see anything".

A spokesman for Surrey County Council confirmed it was working with the French and British authorities.

In a statement, Darryl Taylor, the girls' head teacher at Claygate Primary School, said: "The thoughts of everyone connected with the school are with relatives and friends at this difficult time. We will do all we possibly can to provide support and advice to our pupils and staff."

Ballistics details

In France, police have recovered a laptop computer from the caravan in which the family was staying and are studying more video footage from around the crime site.

Police have also returned to the scene and widened their area of investigation as they probe the getaway route taken. They have also asked their Italian and Swiss counterparts to help in the hunt for the killers.

Mr al-Hilli's wife, Iqbal, and her 74-year-old mother who held a Swedish passport, were killed, close to the tourist destination of Lake Annecy, on Wednesday.

The fourth victim, a cyclist whose body was found near the car, has been named as 45-year-old Sylvain Mollier.

In Annecy on Saturday, Mr Maillaud said post-mortem examinations found the victims were killed by several bullets and "all four were hit twice in the head".

The prosecutor had previously said 25 shots were fired in total.

image captionSaad al-Hilli and his family arrive at the Solitaire du Lac camp site on Monday. Close to the shores of Lac Annecy, in the Haute Savoie region of France, the area is popular with British tourists. They pitch their tents next to their caravan, shown above.
image captionA former RAF serviceman who was on holiday in the area, is cycling on this forest road where he is passed by another cyclist, Frenchman Sylvain Mollier. Just south of the village of Chevaline, the road winds up a steep hill through a thickly forested area.
image captionMinutes later, the British cyclist comes across Mr al-Hilli's BMW in this lay-by, its engine running. There he discovers the French cyclist with a fatal bullet wound to the head and seven-year-old Zainab al-Hilli who had been badly beaten and had a gunshot wound to the shoulder.
image captionHe puts Zainab in the recovery position, calls for assistance and breaks the driver's window to reach in and turn off the car's engine. Inside the vehicle, Saad al-Hilli is slumped over the steering wheel. In the back are his dead wife and mother-in-law. Three of the four victims were shot in the middle of the head.
image captionAlso inside the car is Zainab's four-year-old sister Zeena, who is hiding in the back of the car under the legs of the dead women. French police on the scene are told not to disturb the crime scene and do not open the doors for fear of shattering the glass which has bullet holes in it.
image captionEight hours later, police re-examine the car and pull Zeena, "terrorised and motionless", from the car. The search was made after investigators spoke to neighbours at the campsite who said there were two children. An earlier search using a thermal camera on a helicopter had not detected the child.

A couple of days after the killings, French police said that a possible dispute over money between Mr al-Hilli and his brother, Zaid, was one of the lines of inquiry in the investigation.

This was based on credible information coming from the British police, they said.

But Mr Maillaud has since said that Zaid al-Hilli, who denied to UK police there was any dispute over "financial matters", would be interviewed "as a witness" by French officers "just like any other family member".

"Everyone talks about a dispute between the brothers as if it was an established fact. The brother says there was no dispute so let us remain cautious about that," he said.

Flowers have been left at the scene of the shooting in France, while floral tributes from neighbours have been placed at the al-Hilli home in recent days.

In a statement, the vicar of Claygate, the Reverend Philip Plyming, said: "I, and the church community of Claygate, share the shock felt by so many in the village and beyond at the recent tragic events in France."

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