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French Spy Killing in Alps Could Be Linked to Unsolved Murder of British Family

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Daniel Forestier — who previously worked at DGSE, France's equivalent of MI6 — was shot five times in the head and chest in a car park in Ballaison, close to the French border with Switzerland. The calculated and surgical nature of the shooting has led authorities to label the killing a "professional job".

The apparent assassination of a former French spy in the Alps could help crack the mystery of a British family murdered nearby in 2012.

The murder took place six months after Forestier was accused of plotting the assassination of General Ferdinand Mbaou, an opposition figure in the Republic of Congo. Forestier and another former intelligence agent were charged by French authorities in September 2018 with "criminal conspiracy" and "possession of explosives" in the course of a plot to assassinate Mbaou, who has lived in exile in France for around two decades. Forestier's killing is being investigated by the same Lyon crime squad which was investigating him over the Mbaou plot.

Two men pose at the headquarters of the General Directorate for External Security (DGSE), France's external intelligence agency, in Paris on June 4, 2015 - Sputnik International
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Even more intriguingly though, experts have noticed striking similarities between his killing and the slaying of Briton Saad al-Hilli, his wife Iqbal, and her mother Suhaili al-Allaf. In both cases the victims were shot at point-blank range in little-used car parks in the Alps, with a low chance of witnesses — the same number of bullets were also used.

Ex-satellite engineer al-Hilli, of Claygate, Surrey, was shot at the wheel of his car in a lay-by in Chevaline, just an hour's drive from Ballaison. He'd taken his caravan to a local campsite with his wife, mother-in-law and two daughters in September 2012. French cyclist Sylvian Mollier was also murdered at the spot, while eldest girl Zainab, seven, was pistol-whipped and left for dead — she survived, as did her sister Zeena, four, who hid under her mother's skirt.

Police investigated al-Hilli's past in Iraq as an engineer on sensitive topics, as well as his work at the time of his death, which involved nuclear and satellite technology, as a potential motive for the attack. Mollier was also probed to determine if he was the primary target of the attack.

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In September 2017, after five years of investigation, French police said they had "no working theory" to explain the murders and no suspects. Veronique Dizot, the lead prosecutor, suggested the family "may have been targeted randomly".

However, an inside source has now said there are "clear parallels" between the 2012 attacks and the recent murder.

"The killer on both occasions aimed at the body, then specifically the heart, before finishing off victims at extremely close range with a bullet to the head", they observed.

The border area is rife with weapons issued to conscripts in the Swiss army, which they can keep when back in civilian life.

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