French authorities were investigating whether the massacre of three members of a British family was related to a feud between brothers about money.

Prosecutor Eric Maillaud said a "family drama" between two brothers could be behind the mass killing in which Saad al-Hilli, 50, was gunned down alongside his dentist wife, named by neighbours as Iqbal, and a woman believed to be her mother.

"It seems that there was a dispute between the two brothers about money. This seems to be credible information coming from the British police," Maillaud said, according to AFP.

france alps murders

Police near the scene of the murders in the French Alps

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.

Three of the four who were killed were shot in the middle of the head, French police said.

On Friday authorities prepared to carry on post-mortem examinations on the bodies of four people. Police are hoping to question the al-Hillis' four-year-old daughter on Friday to gain insight into the incident.

On Thursday a neighbour of the couple gave a clue to the family's killing on live radio. Jack Saltman told the Richard Bacon show on Radio 5 Live yesterday: "I know one little thing which I am not prepared to speak (about) at the moment. I will tell the police about it.

"It was something Saad said to me before he went, but at this stage I do not feel I can disclose that, but I will tell the police exactly what he told me before he left."

Another of the family's neighbours in the upmarket village of Claygate in Surrey said he was going to alert police to something Mr al-Hilli said to him before travelling to the Le Solitaire du Lac campsite in Saint-Jorioz, close to the Swiss border.

According to a family friend, known as James, Mr al-Hilli said his family moved to the UK in the 1970s after Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath party looked “unfavourably” on their mechanical engineering business.

It was reported in the Daily Mail that Mr al-Hilli was known to the security services and was put under Metropolitan Police Special Branch surveillance during the second Gulf war.

French police continued to try and establish what happened today and the man heading up the investigation into the killing spree played down suggestions of "professionalism" in the attack.

Public prosecutor Eric Maillaud told a press conference yesterday: "I won't say it was professional, what I will say is it was tremendous savagery. And what is certain is that somebody wanted to kill."

claygate house

Police stand in the garden of a house in Claygate believed to be owned by murdered family

The powerful BMW, which has now been moved by police, was discovered surrounded by spent bullet cartridges in a car park near footpaths on the outskirts of a forest near Lake Annecy, a picturesque region popular with tourists.

The firearm used is believed to have been an automatic pistol.

A British cyclist, a former RAF serviceman who had been overtaken by the French rider, discovered the grisly scene in a quiet car park, Mr Maillaud said.

He is believed to have put the injured seven-year-old in the recovery position and immediately called the emergency services.

The prosecutor defended the delay in finding Zeena as he revealed she was receiving psychiatric treatment

Reports have suggested that police only realised there were two young girls in the family when they interviewed fellow holidaymakers at the campsite where they were staying.

Both sisters are reportedly under police protection while detectives are set to question the traumatised four-year-old as soon as possible to see if she holds vital evidence about the killings.

French president Francois Hollande yesterday offered his sympathy to those affected by the massacre and vowed that authorities would do their utmost to find the perpetrators.

"Our police are co-operating and everything that is found will be shared," he said.

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  • Police around the BMW at scene of shooting in woods near Chevaline in the French Alps where british family and cyclist were shot dead

  • Police around the BMW at scene of shooting in woods near Chevaline in the French Alps where british family and cyclist were shot dead

  • French gendarmes talk with investigators near the caravan of the British family hit by gun attack on September 6, 2012 in the camping "Le Solitaire du lac" in the French Alpine village of Saint-Jorioz. A four-year-old girl spent hours curled up under her mother's body and miraculously survived the deadly attack that left her father, mother and grandmother dead and her elder sister seriously injured, officials said. (Photo credit: PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/GettyImages)

  • A French gendarme stands guard near the caravan of the British family hit by gun attack on September 6, 2012 in the camping "Le Solitaire du lac" in the French Alpine village of Saint-Jorioz. A four-year-old girl miraculously survived the deadly attack that left her father, mother and grandmother dead and her elder sister seriously injured, officials said. (Photo credit: PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/GettyImages)

  • A vehicle of rescuers arrives on Septembre 6, 2012, where four people were shot dead in or close to a British-registered car that was found in a forest car park on the edge of the French Alpine village of Chevaline. The car, a BMW, contained the bodies of a man, in the front, and two women who were seated in the back, police said. (Photo credit: JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT/AFP/GettyImages)

  • A road sign is seen while a Gendarme blocks access to a killing site near Chevaline, French Alps, Wednesday Sept. 5, 2012. French authorities say at least four people have been shot to death in a forest in the Alps. An official with the regional administration for the Haute-Savoie region says three of the bodies were found in a BMW registered in Britain. (AP Photo/Alexis Moro)

  • Gendarmes block access to a killing site near Chevaline, French Alps, Wednesday Sept. 5, 2012. French authorities say at least four people have been shot to death in a forest in the Alps. An official with the regional administration for the Haute-Savoie region says three of the bodies were found in a BMW registered in Britain. (AP Photo/Alexis Moro)

  • Gendarmes block access to a killing site near Chevaline, French Alps, Wednesday Sept. 5, 2012. French authorities say at least four people have been shot to death in a forest in the Alps.An official with the regional administration for the Haute-Savoie region says three of the bodies were found in a BMW registered in Britain. (AP Photo/Alexis Moro)

  • Gendarmes block access to a killing site near Chevaline, French Alps, Wednesday Sept. 5, 2012. French authorities say at least four people have been shot to death in a forest in the Alps.An official with the regional administration for the Haute-Savoie region says three of the bodies were found in a BMW registered in Britain. (AP Photo/Alexis Moro)

  • Gendarmes block access to a killing site near Chevaline, French Alps, Wednesday Sept. 5, 2012. French authorities say at least four people have been shot to death in a forest in the Alps.An official with the regional administration for the Haute-Savoie region says three of the bodies were found in a BMW registered in Britain. (AP Photo/Alexis Moro)

  • Gendarmes block access to a killing site near Chevaline, French Alps, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. French authorities say at least four people have been shot to death in a forest in the Alps. An official with the regional administration for the Haute-Savoie region says three of the bodies were found in a BMW registered in Britain. (AP Photo / Alexis Moro)

  • Gendarmes block access to a killing site near Chevaline, French Alps, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. French authorities say at least four people have been shot to death in a forest in the Alps. An official with the regional administration for the Haute-Savoie region says three of the bodies were found in a BMW registered in Britain. (AP Photo / Alexis Moro)

  • A Gendarme's car heads to a killing site near Chevaline, French Alps, Wednesday Sept.5, 2012. French authorities say at least four people have been shot to death in a forest in the Alps. An official with the regional administration for the Haute-Savoie region says three of the bodies were found in a BMW registered in Britain. (AP Photo/Alexis Moro)

  • Alps shooting

    Members of the public arrive with flowers at the home of French shooting victim, Saad al-Hilli in Claygate, Surrey, as French police investigating the murder of four people are sending four officers to the UK to work with British detectives and plan to search the house of victim Saad al-Hilli.

  • Alps shooting

    A police officer accepts flowers outside the home of French shooting victim, Saad al-Hilli in Claygate, Surrey, as French police investigating the murder of four people are sending four officers to the UK to work with British detectives and plan to search the house of victim Saad al-Hilli.

  • Alps shooting

    A police officer lays flowers outside the home of French shooting victim, Saad al-Hilli in Claygate, Surrey, as French police investigating the murder of four people are sending four officers to the UK to work with British detectives and plan to search the house of victim Saad al-Hilli.

  • Alps shooting

    British Scenes of Crime Officers (SOCO) outside the home of French shooting victim, Saad al-Hilli in Claygate, Surrey, as French police investigating the murder of four people are sending four officers to the UK to work with British detectives and plan to search the house of victim Saad al-Hilli.

  • Alps shooting

    A British Scenes of Crime Officer (SOCO) outside the home of French shooting victim, Saad al-Hilli in Claygate, Surrey, as French police investigating the murder of four people are sending four officers to the UK to work with British detectives and plan to search the house of victim Saad al-Hilli.

  • Alps shooting

    A British Scenes of Crime Officer (SOCO) outside the home of French shooting victim, Saad al-Hilli in Claygate, Surrey, as French police investigating the murder of four people are sending four officers to the UK to work with British detectives and plan to search the house of victim Saad al-Hilli.

  • Alps shooting

    British Scenes of Crime Officers (SOCO) outside the home of French shooting victim, Saad al-Hilli in Claygate, Surrey, as French police investigating the murder of four people are sending four officers to the UK to work with British detectives and plan to search the house of victim Saad al-Hilli.

  • Alps shooting

    British Scenes of Crime Officers (SOCO) outside the home of French shooting victim, Saad al-Hilli in Claygate, Surrey, as French police investigating the murder of four people are sending four officers to the UK to work with British detectives and plan to search the house of victim Saad al-Hilli.

  • Alps shooting

    Forensic officers outside the home of French shooting victim, Saad al-Hilli in Claygate, Surrey, as French police investigating the murder of four people are sending four officers to the UK to work with British detectives and plan to search the house of victim Saad al-Hilli.

  • Alps shooting

    Forensic officers outside the home of French shooting victim, Saad al-Hilli in Claygate, Surrey, as French police investigating the murder of four people are sending four officers to the UK to work with British detectives and plan to search the house of victim Saad al-Hilli.

  • Alps shooting

    British police forensic officers Saturday Sept. 8, 2012, outside the home of Saad al-Hilli, in Claygate, Britain, during investigations into the death of four people shot dead on Wednesday in the French Alps. French police officers are expected to arrive Saturday in Britain as part of an investigation into the slayings of the British-Iraqi al-Hilli family members while vacationing in France. The children of the al-Hilli family survived the killing, as 4-year-old daughter Zeena stayed hidden below the body of her dead mother, and 7-year-old Zaina who was shot in the shoulder and beaten. (AP Photo / Steve Parsons, PA) UNITED KINGDOM OUT - NO SALES - NO ARCHIVES

  • Alps shooting

    British Scenes of Crime forensic officers (SOCO) Saturday Sept. 8, 2012, outside the home of Saad al-Hilli, in Claygate, Britain, during investigations into the death of four people shot dead on Wednesday in the French Alps. French police officers are expected to arrive Saturday in Britain as part of an investigation into the slayings of the British-Iraqi al-Hilli family members while vacationing in France. The children of the al-Hilli family survived the killing, as 4-year-old daughter Zeena stayed hidden below the body of her dead mother, and 7-year-old Zaina who was shot in the shoulder and beaten. (AP Photo / Steve Parsons, PA) UNITED KINGDOM OUT - NO SALES - NO ARCHIVES

  • Alps shooting

    British police officers places flower tributes Saturday Sept. 8, 2012, outside the home of Saad al-Hilli, in Claygate, Britain, during investigations into the death of four people shot dead on Wednesday in the French Alps. French police officers are expected to arrive Saturday in Britain as part of an investigation into the slayings of the British-Iraqi al-Hilli family members while vacationing in France. The children of the al-Hilli family survived the killing, as 4-year-old daughter Zeena stayed hidden below the body of her dead mother, and 7-year-old Zaina who was shot in the shoulder and beaten. (AP Photo / Steve Parsons, PA) UNITED KINGDOM OUT - NO SALES - NO ARCHIVES

  • Alps shooting

    British police forensic officers Saturday Sept. 8, 2012, outside the home of Saad al-Hilli, in Claygate, Britain, during investigations following the deaths of four people shot dead on Wednesday in the French Alps. French police officers are expected to arrive Saturday in Britain as part of an investigation into the slayings of the British-Iraqi al-Hilli family members while vacationing in France. The children of the al-Hilli family survived the killing, as 4-year-old daughter Zeena stayed hidden below the body of her dead mother, and 7-year-old Zaina who was shot in the shoulder and beaten. (AP Photo / Steve Parsons, PA) UNITED KINGDOM OUT - NO SALES - NO ARCHIVES

  • Alps shooting

    The home of Saad al-Hilli, in Claygate, Britain, who was shot dead on Wednesday with three others while vacationing in the French Alps, as it is secured by British police Saturday Sept. 8, 2012. French police officers are expected to arrive Saturday in Britain as part of an investigation into the slayings of the British-Iraqi al-Hilli family. The children of the al-Hilli family survived the killing, as 4-year-old daughter Zeena stayed hidden below the body of her dead mother, and 7-year-old Zaina who was shot in the shoulder and beaten. (AP Photo / Steve Parsons, PA) UNITED KINGDOM OUT - NO SALES - NO ARCHIVES

  • Alps shooting

    British police secure the area Saturday Sept. 8, 2012, outside the home of Saad al-Hilli, in Claygate, Britain, who was shot dead on Wednesday with three others while vacationing in the French Alps. French police officers are expected to arrive Saturday in Britain as part of an investigation into the slayings of the British-Iraqi al-Hilli family. The children of the al-Hilli family survived the killing, as 4-year-old daughter Zeena stayed hidden below the body of her dead mother, and 7-year-old Zaina who was shot in the shoulder and beaten. (AP Photo / Steve Parsons, PA) UNITED KINGDOM OUT - NO SALES - NO ARCHIVES

  • Alps shooting

    The home of French shooting victim, Saad al-Hilli in Claygate, Surrey, as French police investigating the murder of four people are sending four officers to the UK to work with British detectives and plan to search the house of victim Saad al-Hilli.

  • Alps shooting

    Police outside the home of French shooting victim, Saad al-Hilli in Claygate, Surrey, as French police investigating the murder of four people are sending four officers to the UK to work with British detectives and plan to search the house of victim Saad al-Hilli.

  • Alps shooting

    Police on Thursday Sept. 6, 2012 stand outside the home of Saad al-Hilli in Claygate, Surrey, who has been named by French media as one of the members of a British family who was shot dead by a gunman in the French Alps. (AP Photo/Steve Parsons/PA) UNITED KINGDOM OUT NO SALES NO ARCHIVE

  • General view of the hospital of Grenoble , France, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012, where the young British girl is hospitalized after four people were found shot to death on a forest road, last Wednesday, in the French alps. Immobilized with fear, a 4-year-old British girl huddled for eight hours beneath the legs of her slain mother in the back of a car filled with corpses on a remote Alpine road — all while French investigators stood nearby, unaware the girl was there. The stunning discovery Thursday of the girl, apparently unharmed, heightened the drama around a mysterious shooting rampage that left four adults dead and a 7-year-old girl hospitalized with bullet wounds and skull fractures. The reason for the killing, in a wooded area near the village of Chevaline, remains unclear. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)

  • General view of the hospital of Grenoble , France, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012, where the young british girl is hospitalized after four people were found shot to death on a forest road, on Wednesday, in the French alps. Immobilized with fear, a 4-year-old British girl huddled for eight hours beneath the legs of her slain mother in the back of a car filled with corpses on a remote Alpine road — all while French investigators stood nearby, unaware the girl was there. The stunning discovery Thursday of the girl, apparently unharmed, heightened the drama around a mysterious shooting rampage that left four adults dead and a 7-year-old girl hospitalized with bullet wounds and skull fractures. The reason for the killing, in a wooded area near the village of Chevaline, remains unclear. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)

  • Alps shooting

    A Royal Logistic Corps bomb disposal truck arrives at the cordon close to the home of Saad al-Hilli in Claygate, Surrey, as police evacuated an area around his home due to "concerns" about items found at the address.

  • Alps shooting

    A Royal Logistic Corps bomb disposal truck arrives at the cordon close to the home of Saad al-Hilli in Claygate, Surrey, as police evacuated an area around his home due to "concerns" about items found at the address.

  • Alps shooting

    Police close to the home of Saad al-Hilli in Claygate, Surrey, as they evacuated an area around his home due to "concerns" about items found at the address.

  • Alps shooting

    Police stand outside the home of Saad al-Hilli in Claygate, Surrey, who has been named by French media as one of the members of a British family who was shot dead by a gunman in the French Alps.

  • Alps shooting

    Police walk close to the home of Saad al-Hilli in Claygate, Surrey, as they evacuated an area around his home due to "concerns" about items found at the address.

  • Alps shooting

    Police close to the home of Saad al-Hilli in Claygate, Surrey, as they evacuated an area around his home due to "concerns" about items found at the address.

  • Alps shooting

    Police search teams leave the home of French shooting victim, Saad al-Hilli in Claygate, Surrey, after police resumed their search at the home of the family gunned down in the French Alps.

  • Alps shooting

    A police firearms officer at the home of French shooting victim, Saad al-Hilli in Claygate, Surrey, as police resumed their search at the home of the family gunned down in the French Alps.

  • Alps shooting

    Police firearms officers at the home of French shooting victim, Saad al-Hilli in Claygate, Surrey, as police resumed their search at the home of the family gunned down in the French Alps.

  • Alps shooting

    Police at the home of French shooting victim, Saad al-Hilli in Claygate, Surrey, as police resumed their search at the home of the family gunned down in the French Alps.

  • Saad al-Hilli killed in the French Alps