PARIS – The younger daughter of a British-Iraqi couple slain while vacationing in the French Alps has returned to Britain, while her badly wounded older sister has come out of an artificial coma, authorities said Sunday.
Four-year-old Zeena and 7-year-old Zaina survived a vicious shooting that killed their parents, Saad and Iqbal al Hilli, as well as a still-unidentified older woman and a French man who happened to be passing by on his bicycle.
French police have been scrambling to hunt down leads since Wednesday's rampage, while relatives of the couple arrived in France to take care of the girls. Authorities say they are probing whether an alleged financial dispute between Saad al-Hilli and his brother Zaid played a role, though the surviving brother has denied any conflict.
Eric Maillaud, the prosecutor for Annecy near where the shootings occurred, told The Associated Press in a text message that Zeena had returned to Britain along with two relatives who came to retrieve her.
The older daughter, Zaina, who was shot in the shoulder and badly beaten, was earlier placed in a medically induced coma. She has come out of the coma but remains on sedatives and cannot yet talk to investigators, Maillaud wrote Sunday.
Depending on what she remembers, the 7-year-old could prove crucial to the investigation.
Meanwhile, French and British police searched for a second day the couple's U.K. home in Claygate, a suburb of London. U.K. police confirmed that two firearms officers visited the scene.
The couple and the two other people killed were each shot twice in the head. Zeena survived unhurt by hiding under her mother's skirt as some 25 automatic-handgun rounds were fired at the family car.