FRENCH police are hunting at least two killers who murdered the British family with automatic weapons.
All four victims were shot twice in the head, while forensic analysis of cartridges found at the scene reportedly suggests they were fired by more than one person.
The findings will fuel speculation that Saad al-Hilli and his wife Ikbal were victims of a professional hit. There were unconfirmed reports yesterday suggesting that the bullets were 7.65mm calibre rounds, which are typically used in semi-automatic pistols and hunting rifles, suggesting the killings were more than a robbery or car-jacking gone wrong.
In Britain, police were yesterday said to be questioning Mr al-Hilli's brother, Zaid, as a witness. The questioning comes after claims, which he has denied, that he was involved in a family feud with his brother over their father's legacy.
Firefighters and armed officers were yesterday called to the al-Hilli family home in Claygate, Surrey. Police insisted the search by armed officers was "routine", while the fire service declined to comment.
Police remain baffled by the motive for the killings. Lieutenant Colonel Benoit Vinneman, an investigating officers, said all lines of inquiry remained open.
"Is this the work of a crazy person? Was the family the real target? Is it possible that it was the cyclist? Only work based on complete information can help us to see things clearly."
Mr al-Hilli (50), worked as a mechanical design engineer with the Surrey Satellite Technology firm. The company helped to develop the TopSat programme for the Ministry of Defence, the UK's first military surveillance satellite.
However, a colleague said he did not think his job would have put Mr al-Hilli at risk.
A French builder doing work on a British businessman's house in the village of Chevaline on the day of the shootings yesterday said he saw the al-Hilli family drive up the hill shortly before they were killed.
Laurent Fillion-Robin said he did not hear any gunfire, and speculated that the killers may have used a weapon equipped with a silencer.
"I find it bizarre that the British people were up there (at the carpark). There is not much up there apart from a few chalets. It is not the sort of place that families with young children or older people would go to unless you know the area." (©Daily Telegraph London)