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Sam's dad begs Raoul Moat to hand himself in

Police with one of the alleged hostages

Rothbury was put on lockdown yesterday morning as armed police moved in. A two-mile exclusion zone was placed around the village with nobody allowed in or out.

And as police advised residents to remain indoors and locked children in their schools, under armed guard, it was revealed that two men had been arrested in Rothbury and were being questioned on conspiracy to commit murder.

Detectives hunting Moat, who only has one previous conviction for common assault but has been arrested 12 times, which resulted in him being charged with seven separate offences, revealed to the media on Monday that they had been dealing with a potential hostage situation since the first shootings on Saturday, and that they were fearful the gunman may try to kidnap or ‘control’ two men. But the media was asked not to publicise this information.

However, Det Chief Supt Neil Adamson confirmed yesterday that the two men arrested were the potential kidnap victims.

“Throughout this operation and investigation we have been dealing with a complex, fast moving and challenging hostage situation,” he said. “At an early stage it was believed that Moat may have taken two hostages around the time of the shootings in Birtley.

“Throughout this time there has been a significant risk to the lives of the two men. Intelligence led us to conduct an operation during which we arrested two men who were on foot walking along a public road near Rothbury.

“I can confirm that both men are the people we believe were the hostages, have been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder.”

The two men have been reported to be bodybuilder, Karl Ness, 30, from Cramlington, and Qhuram ‘Sean’ Awan, 23.

In a 49-page handwritten letter sent to police shortly after the shootings, Moat claims he forced a man to drive him to the scene of the first shootings in Birtley, and wait until he had shot karate instructor Chris, but he left.

Moat writes: “Got a taxi. I then took two hostages and went to ground.”

Karl Ness’ Facebook page does not appear to have been updated since the first shootings and concerned friends have been posting messages asking where he is.

One message, left on Sunday evening at 9.14pm, reads: “Nessy, get in touch ASAP.”

And on Monday he wrote: “Where are you, we’re all worried about you.”