Police are continuing to question one of the country's most wanted men, who faces accusations that he killed two unarmed policewomen "in an act of cold-blooded murder" before giving himself up.

The police constables, Fiona Bone, 32, and Nicola Hughes, 23, had been sent to investigate what appeared to be a routine burglary report when Dale Cregan, 29, attacked them with a gun and a grenade, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said.

The force's Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy said: "It would appear Cregan has deliberately done this in an act of cold-blooded murder."

After the murders, the fugitive, already wanted in connection with separate gun and grenade attacks that killed father and son David and Mark Short, gave himself up at nearby Hyde police station in Greater Manchester.

It has now emerged that Cregan was arrested in June in connection with the murder of Mark Short but was released on bail pending further inquiries.

The chief constable said it was routine to send unarmed officers to a burglary call and that the force believed Cregan was in the property in Abbey Gardens, Hattersley, overnight.

Sir Peter said police were working under the assumption that Cregan or someone else reported a burglary but because the address was not known to officers, the policewomen were sent to the scene unarmed.

He said: "When they arrived, it appears that Cregan emerged into the road and killed these two officers. A firearm was used, a grenade was also used."

Sir Peter added that he believed Cregan had been "protected by a criminal conspiracy to harbour him", adding that the force was "fully determined" to investigate that conspiracy and bring those involved "to book".

Miss Bone's father Paul told The Daily Telegraph: "Bring back hanging. Let policemen shoot people on sight. I am just so completely shocked. She was such a lovely girl."