TWO men and two women were arrested on suspicion of importing illegal firearms after armed police raided properties in Clitheroe and Nelson.

Armed officers smashed their way through the windows of a property in Lowergate, Clitheroe, as part of a ‘planned operation’ at around 8.30pm on Wednesday.

A 26-year-old man from Clitheroe, a 43-year-old man from Nelson and a 22-year-old woman from Nelson were all arrested at that property.

At 1.30am yesterday, a 46-year-old woman from Nelson was arrested at a property in Bradshaw Street in Nelson.

All four remained in custody yesterday.

No weapons were fired at either property.

The Lancashire Telegraph understands the raids are connected to the importation of guns.

Police could not confirm if any weapons were found at either address for ‘operational reasons’.

Police were still in Lowergate yesterday and officers have stepped up patrols in Clitheroe and Nelson.

Duncan Sykora, 58, who saw the Clitheroe raid, said: “There were about 10 police cars and between six and eight armed officers.

“It was surreal. It was a lovely summer evening and there was a ballet class going on in the hall at the Old School Room.

We could hear the sound of the ballet class and then there was a lot of shouting. We heard the door going in and the windows smashing. We heard the officers shouting at people telling them to get down on the ground.”

Assistant Chief Constable Terry Woods said: “Officers have arrested four people on suspicion of firearms offences as part of a pre-planned operation.

“While I appreciate that the presence of armed officers and the nature of the activity may have caused some concern, I would stress that the safety of both the public and our officers was paramount. I would also like to reassure people that there is no ongoing threat to the wider community.

“Officers will remain at both addresses for some time while searches are carried out and we will have extra patrols in both areas as reassurance.”If anyone has any concerns I would ask them to approach one of these officers or to call 101.”