French Alps murders: Seven-year-old Zainab al-Hilli tells police and relatives of her 'terror' at the shootings

The schoolgirl has been brought out of her medically-induced coma and although still sedated was able to talk to officers.

Zainab al-Hilli, the seven-year-old girl who saw her parents murdered in the French Alps massacre, has spoken to police for the first time and does appear to remember the details of the killings, it emerged today.

The schoolgirl, who remains under armed guard in hospital in the city of Grenoble, has been brought out of her medically-induced coma and although still sedated was able to talk to officers. She has also told family members at her bedside of her “terror” at what took place.

Sources close to the investigation told the French media that Zainab, who was shot in the shoulder and suffered a fractured skull in the attack, seemed to recall elements of what happened during the horrific moments last Wednesday when her parents and maternal grandmother were executed on a twisting mountain track.

A source said: “They have been able to speak to her but this was just an initial meeting. They could not go into any detail and the child was very tired. It was not permitted for the discussion to go any further.”

Specialist officers are now preparing for the vital but delicate task of interviewing the young girl, who may be able to identify those responsible for the killings. But Zainab’s condition means it is likely to be several days before doctors decide whether she is ready to be asked further questions.

The youngster’s progress came as it was revealed that a single weapon using an outmoded calibre of ammunition was used to kill the al-Hilli family and Sylvain Mollier, a French cyclist who happened on the scene.

Ballistic experts believe that a 7.65mm calibre automatic pistol – a small and old-fashioned gun – was used to fire all 25 shots during the slaughter on a track above Lake Annecy in south eastern France.

Sources in the French investigation said that the pistol – once used for personal protection but now rare – was not the type of fire-arm carried by professional assassins or government hit-men. British experts said that although unusual, ammunition for 7.65mm weapons remained widely available in Europe and such pistols had the advantage of making less noise than more powerful 9mm guns.

French investigators added that the use of a single gun did not necessarily mean that the killer acted alone. Other evidence pointed to the presence of two assailants at the scene.

Examination of bullets found in the bodies, including two in the head of each victim and five in the cyclist’s back, has allowed ballistic experts to establish a tentative order of events. They believe that Saad al-Hilli, 50, a British-Iraqi aeronautical engineer, was the first to be shot behind the wheel of his wine-coloured BMW estate car.

The gunman then shot the two women on the back-seat of the car, Mr al-Hilli’s wife, Iqbal, 47, and her 77-year-old Swedish-Iraqi mother. The last person to die was Mr Mollier, reinforcing the view that he was murdered because he stumbled on the scene of the massacre. The gun would have to be re-loaded at least once.

Mr Al-Hilli had been seen "acting strangely" before his death, leaving his family alone several times each day and switching campsites at short notice, it was reported last night.

In Britain, the search of the al-Hilli’s mock Tudor family home was halted today and neighbours evacuated after officers found “items of concern” in an outhouse at the bottom of the garden of the house in the affluent village of Claygate in Surrey.

An Army bomb disposal squad was called to scene but the search later resumed after police said the unidentified items were not hazardous.

Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvAs the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian on why he'll never bow to critics who habitually circle his work
Arts & Entertainment
Don (John Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) Draper are going their separate ways in the final series of ‘Mad Men’
tvReview: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey outside Mo Nabbach’s M&M Hair Academy in west London before the haircut
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Sport
Vito Mannone fails to keep out Samir Nasri's late strike
sportMan City 2 Sunderland 2: Keeper flaps at Nasri's late leveller, but Black Cat striker's two goals in 10 minutes had already done damage
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
News
peopleRyan Gosling says yes, science says no. Take the A-list facial hair challenge
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
Arts & Entertainment
Play It Forward: the DC Record Fair in Washington, US
musicIndependent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads on Record Store Day
Sport
video
News
Supermarkets are running out of Easter Eggs
Deals make eggs cheaper than normal chocolate
Life & Style
Wasp factory: 1.3 million examples of the Vespa scooter have been sold in the last decade
motoringIconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal
Supersize art

Is big better? Britain's latest super-sized art

The Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
James Dean: Back on the big screen

James Dean: Back on the big screen

As 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star perfected his moody act