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Body of gunman found after Lake Dist rampage

world Updated: Jun 02, 2010 19:19 IST

British police said they had found the body of a man suspected of killing a number of people in a rampage through towns in and around the scenic Lake District of northwest England on Wednesday.

Locals, walkers and tourists were told to stay indoors after reports of shootings in towns in the county of Cumbria, including Whitehaven, Seascale and Coniston.

After a huge manhunt to capture the suspected gunman, 52-year-old Derrick Bird, police said they had found a body in a secluded area in Boot, a remote hamlet in the Eskdale valley, an area popular with hillwalkers.

"I can confirm that we have found a body in a wooded area of Boot which we believed to be Mr Bird together with a firearm," said Stuart Hyde, Assistant Chief Constable of Cumbria Police.

He said there had been a number of fatalities and injuries but would not confirm numbers until police had spoken to relatives. The BBC reported that 11 people had been shot although it was not known how many had been killed.

Multiple shooting incidents are rare in Britain where there are strict gun controls.

In 1996, a gunman massacred 16 children and their teacher in the Scottish town of Dunblane in 1996 and a man shot dead 16 people in the southern English town of Hungerford in 1987.

Police said every armed officer in the county had been involved in trying to trying to capture Bird, a taxi driver in the coastal town of Whitehaven where the shootings began at 0935 GMT.

"Our focus now is to find out what has caused this and where Mr Bird has been over the last 24 hours and in particular the last few hours," Hyde said.

Another taxi driver from Whitehaven, who declined to be named, told Reuters that Bird, who he had known for about 20 years, had shot two other taxi drivers in a dispute.

"It came out of the blue. He is a quiet guy," the taxi driver said.

Receptionist Helen Owens, 27, working in a lawyers' office about 150 metres down the road from the shooting, said she heard two shots.

"We heard a bang and then we saw a police officer running towards where the shooting happened," she told Reuters.

"I popped my head out of the door and saw him stop and flag down a passing car and jump into the car with another guy and then we heard another bang."

Bird was last seen heading towards the central area of Cumbria, in the heart of the Lake District.

The Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant in Seascale said all the site gates had been closed, with staff told to remain at their posts on site while the incident was continuing. However it said its operations were unaffected.