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Policeman 'saved by body armour'

A police officer shot by a gunman in an incident which sparked a seven-hour siege was saved from serious injury by his body armour, his Chief Constable has said.

The 29-year-old, who has not been named, was shot after he arrived to arrest Alistair Bell at his home in Kirkheaton, near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, on Monday night.

After a night-long stand-off, during which Bell fired repeatedly at officers, he was fatally wounded by a police marksman.

On Wednesday, in an interview with the Yorkshire Post, West Yorkshire Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison said Bell had a "history of violence" and his officers had gone to detain him over allegations of threats made to a family in the village.

Sir Norman said: "Immediately on answering the door and discovering officers wanted to carry the investigation of the threats further, this man produced a handgun, threatened the officers with it and told them to leave his premises, which they sensibly did.

"As they were retreating from the property, he opened fire."

He went on: "The round lodged in the body armour and did not penetrate the final layer, so the officer has severe bruising to the kidney area of his torso and abrasions which were caused by the ricochet of the armour.

"If he hadn't been wearing body armour, it would have undoubtedly caused serious injury in an area where there are a great number of vital organs."

The paper said Sir Norman made the comments during a pre-arranged interview on Tuesday on another matter.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is now investigating what happened during the siege in Cockley Hill Lane, Kirkheaton - a quiet village about three miles from Huddersfield town centre.