Lives still at risk in gang feud, warns Manchester police chief

Second man held amid fears that grenades have not been recovered after killing of female PCs

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The Independent Online

The spiral of violence in a “longstanding criminal feud” that saw two unarmed female police officers murdered could continue, the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police warned yesterday.

Sir Peter Fahy said that officers could not be sure that all the grenades associated with the tragedy had been recovered from the estate in Hattersley where PC Nicola Hughes and PC Fiona Bone died in a gun and grenade attack as they answered a routine burglary report on Tuesday.

He said the feud which sparked the series of events leading to the tragedy could still be active with officers and others at risk. Police have issued Osman warnings – notices given to people under threat of being murdered or seriously injured – to "a large number of individuals," he said.

"I would want that to be the message, this has been a long-standing criminal feud between different outfits in Manchester and in the Tameside area, and that threat is very much there," said Sir Peter.

It was also confirmed that a 28-year-old man had been arrested yesterday on suspicion of conspiracy to murder as officers continued to question Dale Cregan, 29, over the officers' deaths. Cregan is also being questioned over the deaths of father and son David and Mark Short.

Messages of support continued to flood in for the fallen officers including from the Queen who spoke of her distress at the murders.

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, cut short her holiday to visit Greater Manchester Police while fellow officers and well-wishers laid flowers at the scene of the attack where a minute's silence was observed.

Floral tributes have included a large bouquet from Manchester City Football Club, while Manchester United wore black armbands during their Champions League fixture last night.

The force said it had been "overwhelmed" by messages of support. It has received more than 25,000 messages of condolence on its website, 19,000 via Facebook and another 1,000 on Twitter. Police were forced to explain their decision to release Cregan on bail in connection with a previous killing, insisting that they did not have enough evidence to charge him.

It also emerged that one of the officers had drawn their Taser prior to being shot.

Friends and neighbours of PC Bone, 32, described her as a "kind, loving, gentle, funny, caring" woman who was in the middle of planning a civil ceremony for her same-sex partnership when she was killed.

The couple lived together in a cul-de-sac in Sale, Cheshire, with her partner's five-year-old daughter. Neighbours told how the couple would share childcare duties around their work shifts along with the help of grandparents.

The family of PC Hughes, 23, said that she had always wanted to make a difference to her community.

Her mother Susan, father Bryn and younger brother Sam issued a statement saying: "Nicola was our only daughter and a beautiful child. She was always happy with life and lived for her family.

"She had an infectious personality and sense of humour and was a very caring and loving girl. When she left the house this morning she was going to the job she loved."

Calls to routinely arm police officers following the killing of the two female officers were rejected by the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, who warned against any knee-jerk response to the tragedy.

He said that the move would carry "considerable risks" and could damage relations between police and the communities they serve.