Brutal murder near Cheltenham twin town
THE BRUTAL murder of a British family close to Cheltenham's French twin town has left members of the group shocked.
Councillor Garth Barnes, chairman of Cheltenham's Twinning Association, said he was horrified when he learned of the killings just a few miles from Annecy.
The motive behind the slaying of three family members in their car in the village of Chevaline remains a mystery.
Saad al-Hilli, 50, who was originally from Iraq, was gunned down alongside his dentist wife, named by neighbours as Iqbal, and a woman believed to be her mother.
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The couple's four-year-old daughter, named locally as Zeena, was found alive in the BMW estate underneath the bodies of her relatives around eight hours after the massacre, which also saw a passing French cyclist, Sylvain Mollier, 45, shot dead.
The al-Hillis' seven-year-old daughter, believed to be called Zainab, was in a medically induced coma in Grenoble University Hospital after being repeatedly beaten around the head and shot in the shoulder in the attack, which took place on Wednesday.
Mr Barnes had been on a visit to the area just a month ago with the twinning association.
Although he has yet to make contact with his counterparts in Annecy, he said the group would be in touch to see what support it could give to them.
"I've not personally been in touch with anybody yet as I've been waiting to see how things develop," he added.
"Details have been slow in coming out so we will be contacting our colleagues over there to find out what we can.
"I am sure there is nothing more we can do as the authorities there are already doing everything which can be done."
Police have revealed there were signs of a vehicle braking at the scene.
Investigators said no weapon had been found and no arrests had been made.
One theory is that shots could have been fired during a bungled armed robbery.