UK mourns murdered policewomen

ONE of Britain's largest police forces has been plunged into deep shock and mourning after two ''very brave and courageous'' unarmed female officers were said to have been lured to an ambush where they were fatally injured in a gun and grenade attack.

Fiona Bone, 32, and Nicola Hughes, 23, were responding to a routine callout in a suburb of Manchester when they were caught in a trap believed to have been set by a fugitive wanted by police in connection with earlier murders. The deaths are the first time two British female officers have been killed on duty.

The young officers had been sent to investigate what appeared to be a routine burglary when Dale Cregan, 29, attacked them with a gun and a grenade.

''It would appear Cregan has deliberately done this in an act of cold-blooded murder,'' Greater Manchester Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy said. Cregan's motive for the attack was ''impossible to fathom'', he said.

After the murders, Cregan gave himself up.

Hughes, who had served three years in the force, was described by colleagues as a ''bubbly'' karate fan who ''couldn't do enough for people''. Bone, who had been in the force for five years, was said by Fahy to be a ''calm, gentle woman'' and ''excellent bobby'' who was about to get married.

Before she went out on patrol, he said, she had spoken to her partner on the phone about wedding invitations.

PC Bone was killed at the scene, police said. Her colleague died a short while later despite the efforts of an emergency team from a local hospital. GUARDIAN, PA

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