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Tributes pile up in U.K. after family shooting

A policeman places flowers outside the house of the victims.

CLAYGATE, Britain: Bouquets of flowers were building up Friday outside the home of a British-Iraqi family who were targeted in a shooting in a tranquil forest car park in the French Alps.

As French investigators examined the murders of Saad al-Hilli, his wife and mother-in-law and the shooting and beating of their 7-year-old daughter Zainab, poignant tributes were left to the victims.

A card on one bunch of flowers left at the spacious house in Claygate, Surrey, read: “We are absolutely devastated by this horrendous news. As a family we are going to miss you so much.

“Rest in peace and know that you shall be greatly missed.

“Our prayers and thoughts are with you, Zainab and Zeena.”

Zeena, 4, was found hiding under the skirts of one of the slain woman in the BMW found in Chevaline near Annecy, hours after the shootings.

Zainab is in hospital in Grenoble after receiving a bullet wound in the shoulder and a fractured skull.

A group of six mothers whose children attend the local primary school with the two girls came to the house in a leafy street in Surrey, southwest of London, clutching bunches of flowers. Several of the women were in tears.

One said she had a child in the same year as one of the Hilli girls.

“They were a lovely, lovely family,” she said, adding that the school had asked them not to speak to journalists.

Another message on the growing pile of flowers read: “God rest your souls. Dear Zainab and Zeena, our prayers are with you. May God comfort, heal and restore you.

‘This is something which is predetermined, it’s well-planned’

A teddy bear had been placed among the flowers.

John O’Connor, a former commander for London’s police who lives around the corner from the Hilli family, told reporters that the shooting had the hallmarks of a clinical murder.

“This is something which is predetermined, it’s well-planned, and frankly it’s one of the most horrible crimes I’ve ever come across,” he said.

“When you get people as trained and as evil and as determined as this, you’re into a different ball game. You’re into something like what we see with political assassinations.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 08, 2012, on page 9.

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