The family of Federico Martin Aramburu, the former Argentina international rugby player shot dead in Paris on Saturday, have denounced the “heinous crime” and called on the police to be allowed to work “calmly”.

Aramburu, 42, was killed in a drive-by shooting following a dispute in a bar, sources close to the inquiry said.

“This heinous crime and his death have left his family and friends and beyond all, the world of rugby, stunned and in unspeakable pain,” the family’s lawyer Yann Le Bras said in a statement sent to AFP.

“The coming days must be devoted to the grieving of his family and to allowing the police to work calmly.”

Police are investigating three suspects, one of whom is a far-right activist.

“There was an altercation, as there can be at the end of the evening. It was settled but the men came back and fired at Aramburu, who took three bullets,” said a former Biarritz player who was with Aramburu, asking to remain anonymous.

“Several bullet marks” were found on the spot, added a source close to the investigation, and Aramburu died at the scene as a result of his injuries.

Xavier Nogueras, the lawyer for the main suspect, did not wish to make a comment when contacted.

Aramburu was a back who won 22 Argentina caps and played in the 2007 World Cup in France, scoring a try as the Pumas beat the hosts in the third-place playoff.

He played club rugby in France for Biarritz, Perpignan and Dax from 2004 to 2010, winning the top 14 twice with Biarritz and later sitting on the club’s board of directors.

Since his retirement from sport, he had lived in Biarritz and worked for a tourism company.

His family’s lawyer said tributes to the player could be sent to the Biarritz club.