Police hunting for a convicted murder on the loose in Liverpool have arrested four people in Dorset.
Armed officers arrested the four men during a swoop on a car in the Canford Cliffs area of Poole on Friday at around 3:45pm but Shaun Walmsley was not among them.
Eyewitnesses told the BBC they heard loud bangs and saw pink smoke as police cars blocked the Vauxhall Corsa’s escape in Haven Road.
During the planned operation, officers fired tyre deflation rounds to stop the vehicle and arrested the four men.
No-one was injured and no other weapons were discharged.
Walmsley, 28, went on the run on 21 February after two men armed with a knife and a gun confronted prison officers guarding him at Aintree University Hospital during a visit from HMP Wilton.
He then fled the scene in a gold Volvo which was later found abandoned in the Fazakerley area of Liverpool.
Two men aged 24 and two aged 25, all from the Liverpool area, are being questioned on suspicion of assisting an offender.
Detective Chief Inspector Gavin Dudfield, of Dorset Police, said: "Dorset Police responded to reports that a number of people involved in the unlawful escape of Shaun Walmsley were travelling through Dorset.
"This was a successful targeted operation and I would like to thank all the officers involved, including our alliance colleagues at Devon and Cornwall Police as well as Merseyside Police.
"I appreciate that due to the nature of the incident there may have been some concerns in the local community, so I would like to thank the public for their patience and understanding while these necessary arrests were made."
Walmsley is currently serving a life sentence with a minimum term of 30 years for the murder of Anthony Duffy in May 2014.
Mr Duffy, 33, was lured to an address in Aintree and stabbed 28 times by Walmsley and another man after they learnt he had planned to steal their cannabis crop, the Liverpool Echo reported.
Merseyside Police are said to be working with forces overseas as part of their search for the killer.
Two men aged 25 and 27 and a 26-year-old woman, all from Norris Green, Liverpool, had previously been arrested over the escape and they were later released pending further inquiries.
Additional reporting by PA