British police hunting on-the-run 'gunman' find new clues

9th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

British police hunting a suspected gunman thought to be lying low in wild countryside after being on the run for a week found fresh clues Friday, while warning the public to be on high alert.

Raoul Moat is accused of seriously injuring a policeman and his ex-girlfriend and killing her new partner in and around Newcastle, northeast England, before apparently fleeing to the nearby Northumbria National Park.

Police have arrested two more people accused of helping Moat, found three of his mobile phones and released photographs of camping equipment including a tent and sleeping bag which he and accomplices are thought to have used.

"There have been some very positive developments over the past 24 hours," said Detective Chief Superintendent Neil Adamson.

"I am certain that these phones were all used by Mr. Moat. We have recovered valuable information from them and are pursuing numerous leads in connection with this information."

The fresh developments in the case, which is dominating British television news channels and tabloid newspapers, came after officers warned residents in the quiet village of Rothbury near the national park to take extra care.

They have been warned to close doors and windows and not to take any "unnecessary risk".

Police are even being stationed at Rothbury's three schools after residents put in a request at a public meeting attended by around 300 people Thursday.

Officers say it is "highly probable" that Moat, a 37-year-old nightclub bouncer and bodybuilder, is still in the Rothbury area.

But they say one of the reasons why it was proving so hard to find him was the "challenging terrain" which is "full of hills, ravines, caves, dense woodland and deep water".

The national park, which covers over 1,030 square kilometres, is open for business despite the manhunt.

Moat is thought to have a major grievance against the police but they have warned that recent information suggests he "may now pose a threat to the wider public".

Officers are using a helicopter equipped with thermal imaging equipment to try to track him, while specialist search teams and firearms officers have also been deployed.

The shootings happened on Saturday, two days after Moat was released from jail, where he had served an 18-week sentence for assault.

He has declared "war" on police and said in a letter to them he would not stop killing "till I'm dead".

Two men appeared in court Thursday in connection with the case, one accused of being with Moat when he allegedly shot his ex-girlfriend and her partner and another of supplying him with a gun.

A total of six people have now been arrested.

© 2010 AFP

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