Grenade alert in Manchester

Police call in extra officers after reports of cache of 18 bombs

The police force investigating the deaths of two female police officers in Manchester is searching for as many as 18 missing grenades, it has emerged. The grenades are believed to have been smuggled into the country from the former Yugoslavia. Officers from neighbouring forces have been drafted in to assist inquiries amid fears of further violence.

Large parts of a council estate in Tameside, Greater Manchester, where PCs Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone were killed on Tuesday, remained cordoned off yesterday. The officers were lured to their deaths by a bogus burglary report, which drew them to an address on the Hattersley estate.

The attack renewed fears that lethal weapons have become common again in the city that was once dubbed "Gunchester". Criminals have claimed that grenades could be bought for as little as £50, although Sir Peter Fahy, chief constable of the force, has dismissed such suggestions. Tuesday was the second occasion that grenades had been used to kill in Manchester in the space of five weeks.

The violence is believed to be the result of a vicious feud between two rival crime families in the Clayton and Droylsden areas of east Manchester. For 10 years, turf wars have been fought over low-level crime and drugs. Fearing more serious violence, senior police officers last week called for an end to the feuding.

Dale Cregan, 29, has been charged with the murders – as well as two more counts of murder and four of attempted murder – and will make his second appearance in court tomorrow following Friday's initial hearing.

A second man, Stephen Garvey, 28, arrested in connection with the killings, has been released without charge. A 15-year-old boy, arrested at school on suspicion of assisting an offender, was released on bail. After his release, the teenager insisted he had never met Dale Cregan or had any dealings with him.

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