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PostTue Sep 18, 2012 4:35 pm » by Icarus1

Two female police officers have died during a "routine" call-out which led to the arrest of a man wanted by Greater Manchester Police.

PC Nicola Hughes, 23, and PC Fiona Bone, 32, suffered fatal injuries in the incident in Mottram, Tameside.

Dale Cregan, 29, has been arrested in connection with the officers' deaths and two previous murders.

Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy said it was one of the force's "darkest days".

Mr Cregan was arrested when he walked into Hyde police station a short time after the incident.

A witness at the scene in Abbey Gardens reported hearing 13 gunshots and an explosion shortly before 11:00 BST.

Sir Peter said someone had made a call alleging a burglary had been committed and when the officers arrived they were attacked with a gun and a grenade.

He said: "We believe that Dale Cregan was in a house in Abbey Gardens overnight and has at some point this morning has either himself made a call or had someone else made a call reporting a burglary.

"This address was not known to us, was not in our intelligence systems [and] had not featured in this particular inquiry."

He added: "As would be routine, two unarmed officers were sent to the scene."

Police said one of the officers died at the scene and the second was critically injured and died afterwards.

Dale Cregan Dale Cregan, 29, has been arrested

The scene has been cordoned off and there is a heavy police presence in the area, including a bomb disposal team.

A police helicopter is also on patrol overhead.

The witness who described the shots, a window cleaner who worked in the area, said the property the officers were called to had been unoccupied for some months.

Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan said it was "a tragic day" for Greater Manchester Police.

"A long and dark shadow has been cast across Greater Manchester and my thoughts are with the officers' families, friends and colleagues.

"We will be doing everything we can to support them over the coming days and weeks."

The BBC's North of England reporter Danny Savage said he had spoken to an eyewitness who said they saw a police car outside shortly after 10:15 BST.

After that car had drawn up it seems that the two unarmed police officers inside the car went into the property which had stood empty for some months," he said.

This is arguably the blackest day in the history of the police service of England and Wales since three police officers were shot dead in west London in 1966.

One of the killers, Harry Roberts, is still in jail. It's believed to be the first time that two female officers have been killed in the same incident in the line of duty anywhere in the UK.

It provides a reminder - after the damage to the police's reputation from the Hillsborough report and the Simon Harwood case - of the unpredictable and dangerous nature of their work.

The shootings will inevitably spark a debate about whether police should have greater personal protection.

They now routinely carry CS or pepper spray, and Tasers are also widely available. However, it seems there's little appetite for routinely arming the police.

A Police Federation survey, conducted in 2006, of 47,000 officers found that 82% were opposed to the idea.

"Whilst they were inside around a dozen shots were fired and there was an explosion."

He added: "There were gunshots fired, possibly a hand grenade as well - that appears to be the suggestions at the moment.

"Those police officers didn't come out of the house again, the police car was left outside with its lights flashing but empty. Emergency services and colleagues were soon here offering assistance."

Prime Minister David Cameron said the killing was "a shocking reminder of the debt we owe to those who put themselves in danger to keep us safe and secure".

Home Secretary Theresa May said: "This is a deeply shocking incident and a terrible reminder of the risks that police officers face every day to keep our communities safe."

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said it was "deeply distressing news [and] a painful demonstration of how police officers put themselves in harm's way every day to protect the public".

Witness Warren Sheppard was up a ladder cleaning the windows of a house nearby when the shooting happened.

He said: "I heard about 10 shots quite close, bang, bang, bang, like that. I knew they were gunshots because sometimes there is clay pigeon shooting in the fields.

"I heard a big explosion about 10 seconds after the shots. I got off the ladder, walked round, saw an empty police car.

"A car went speeding past to the main road."

He said he went back to his van but could see the aftermath through a gap between two houses.

"It was like something on the movies," he said.

Witness Warren Shepperd said he heard numerous "really loud shots" followed by a large explosion

"It's just so sad for the family of the two police women.

"Both lost their lives just doing their jobs and my heart goes out to their families and I know people around here will feel the same."

He said the house where the incident took place was a council house which had been left empty.

He said there had been some recent activity with the windows covered in whitewash suggesting the house was being decorated.

A 27-year-old woman, who did not want to be named, said her ex-boyfriend witnessed the shootings.

She said he was walking back from the doctor's when he heard someone shout to him.

"Then someone has come outside the house... and shot two officers and then he threw a grenade in the garden," she said.

Police first released details of Dale Cregan after a grenade attack which killed David Short on 10 August.

The attack was caught on CCTV showing two hooded figures throwing a device at a house in Clayton, causing an explosion.

Police responded and discovered Mr Short, 46, with fatal injuries.

Greater Manchester Police then took the unusual step of naming Dale Cregan, 29, from Droylsden - who has one eye - and releasing his photograph.

But David Short was not the first member of his family to die in violent circumstances.

Police said they wanted to question Mr Cregan over the murder of David Short's son Mark, who was shot in the neck at the Cotton Tree Inn in Droylsden.

A major manhunt was launched to find Mr Cregan involving hundreds of officers.

That hunt ended when Mr Cregan walked into a police station in Hyde following the death of two unarmed female police officers.

The police flag at Greater Manchester Police headquarters has been lowered to half mast.

President of the Association of Chief Police Officers Sir Hugh Orde said the deaths of the two officers were "deeply sad news for the police service".

"Whenever police officers and staff lose a colleague that loss is felt right across the police family," he said.

"The thoughts of everyone in policing are with colleagues in Greater Manchester Police, family and friends of the two officers at this time."

Police had been offering a £25,000 reward for information leading to Mr Cregan's arrest as he was wanted over attacks that left a father and son dead.

ACC Shewan said Mr Cregan had also been arrested on suspicion of two counts of murder in relation to the investigations into the deaths of David Short and Mark Short.

David Short was killed in a gun and grenade attack in Clayton on 10 August.

His son, Mark, was killed in a pub shooting at the Cotton Tree Pub in Droylsden in May.

better to die on your feet than live on your knees

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