A French cyclist killed along with three members of a British-Iraqi family on holiday in the Alpine region was the first to be shot, ballistics tests have revealed, according a report leaked to the French Le Parisien newspaper.

Sylvain Mollier was thought to have been shot simply because he had stumbled on an attack last month in which several members of the family were killed.

But the ballistics report revealed that he was the first person shot, before the killer turned on the al-Hilli family the website of Le Parisien reported on Friday.

Saad al-Hilli, 50, his wife Ikbal, 47, and her mother Suhaila al-Allaf, 74, were all shot and killed in the forest car park close to Lake Annecy.

Seven-year-old Zainab al-Hilli nearly died after being shot in the shoulder and hit repeatedly around the head by the attacker. She has been unable to help the enquiry in any meaningful way.

Her sister Zeena survived by sheltering under her mother's skirt in the back of the family's car. The four-year-old spent eight hours hiding among the bodies of three deceased adults.

Investigators are said to think only one person was involved in the shootings.

Having examined the soles of his shoes, they think Saad al-Hilli was first shot outside the car and then finished off after he got back in the car and tried to drive off, Le Parisien reported.

After having shot the three members of the family in the car, the killer then turned back to the cyclist and finished him off, investigators think, basing their theory on the different angles of some of entry wounds.

Their reconstruction suggested that the killer had moved around a lot in an apparently disorganised manner, going from one victim to another and then back again.

That seemed to undermine the theory that a professional killer had been behind the killings, investigators told the paper.

Autopsies revealed that each of the four dead victims were hit by several bullets and shot twice in the head.

Saad al-Hilli, a naturalised Briton of Iraqi origin, worked as a mechanical design engineer with the Surrey Satellite Technology firm.

Source: Agencies