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updated: 9/10/2012 9:54 AM

Bomb squad checks home of Britons slain in France

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  • The home of Saad al-Hilli, in Claygate, England, who was shot dead on Wednesday with three others while vacationing in the French Alps, continued to be guarded Sunday by Surrey Police, who are assisting French police.

      The home of Saad al-Hilli, in Claygate, England, who was shot dead on Wednesday with three others while vacationing in the French Alps, continued to be guarded Sunday by Surrey Police, who are assisting French police.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

CLAYGATE, England -- A bomb squad was called temporarily Monday to the suburban home of a British-Iraqi couple slain in the French Alps as investigators searched the house for clues to their brutal killing.

Neighbors were evacuated and a broader security cordon was installed as bomb disposal experts went to Claygate, a village 17 miles southwest of London, after what local police described as "concerns around items found at the address."

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But the bomb squad soon left and the cordon was lifted. Surrey Police, who are work with French homicide investigators, said in a statement that the items found were not hazardous. They did not elaborate.

Investigators on both sides of the English Channel have spent nearly a week trying to trace the perpetrators of a shooting rampage that killed Saad al-Hilli, his wife, Iqbal, a woman believed to be his mother-in-law and a French cyclist.

The couple's daughters, 4-year-old Zeena and 7-year-old Zaina, survived the shooting.

The extreme violence used in the slayings -- the adult victims were each shot twice in the head, among other injuries -- has led to speculation about the motive behind the crime.

Authorities are probing whether an alleged financial dispute between Saad al-Hilli and his brother Zaid played a role. The Associated Press has uncovered an email from Saad describing tensions between the two over their late father's assets, but Zaid has denied any conflict to police.

The explosives alert Monday came as officers began searching buildings in the property's garden, prompting the evacuation of several adjacent houses. It sent a ripple of concern through Claygate, a small community surrounded by woods, farmland and a golf course.

"It's quite disturbing," said neighbor Brian Salmon, 74.

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