Police `closing net` on fugitive British gunman

British police said hey were "closing the net" on a fugitive suspected of shooting three people, after arresting two men who were initialaly believed to have been taken hostage by the gunman.

Updated: Jul 06, 2010, 21:26 PM IST

London: British police said on Tuesday hey were
"closing the net" on a fugitive suspected of shooting three
people, after arresting two men who were initially believed to
have been taken hostage by the gunman.

Raoul Thomas Moat, 37, has been on the run for four days
since allegedly shooting his ex-girlfriend, her boyfriend and
a police officer in northeast England at the weekend. The
boyfriend died and the others were badly injured.

Police have locked down an area in Rothbury,
Northumberland, where they found Moat`s car and near where
they picked up two men walking along a road who they believed
had been held hostage since the killings.

In a dramatic twist, police announced at a press
conference that the two men had been arrested on suspicion of
conspiracy to commit murder.

"I can confirm that both men are the people we believe
were the hostages," Detective Chief Superintendent Neil
Adamson told reporters, adding that police had believed the
men`s lives to be at "significant risk".

"Both have been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to
commit murder. Both are currently in police custody.

"At this time Mr Moat has not been located. I am
confident, however, that with the support of the wider public
and the continuing efforts of our staff, that we are closing
the net on Moat."

Moat was released from jail on Thursday after serving a
short sentence for assault and early Saturday, allegedly shot
his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend.

Samantha Stobbart remains in critical condition but the
boyfriend was killed.

In the early hours of Sunday, detectives believe the
father-of-three also shot and critically injured a police
officer in the nearby city of Newcastle.

It is thought that Moat believed his ex-girlfriend had
been having an affair with a police officer, but police say
she has not been romantically involved with a policeman.

Adamson reiterated appeals for Moat to turn himself in,
saying: "You still have a future. Give yourself up now."

In a handwritten letter passed to The Sun newspaper, Moat
"declared war" on the police, saying: "The public need not
fear me, but the police should as I won`t stop till I am
dead."

PTI