ARMED police swooped on quiet York streets today, before launching a manhunt.

Dozens of officers, including a number carrying guns, converged on Sycamore Avenue in New Earswick shortly after 10am.

Officers also attended Church Lane in Huntington.

York Police has so far refused to release details of the operation, but Huntington and New Earswick councillor Keith Hyman said officers told him they were hunting for a 6ft 3ins man, of athletic build.

One Sycamore Avenue resident, who asked to be referred to only as Richard, said about eight police vans had arrived in the street, and officers had been running towards Willow Bank and the River Foss.

He said: "They were everywhere, searching gardens."

He added: "I have never seen so many police on a Saturday morning. The village was swarming with them."

Richard said one of the officers had told him it was a "serious" matter but would not give details.

Another witness said she saw six armed officers running behind her house in Sycamore Avenue, while Coun Hyman said he had seen police in Church Lane, looking round the fields between there and New Earswick.

The armed police had left New Earswick by 11.20am but a police vehicle remained in Sycamore Avenue for several hours.