A CAR windscreen was shattered by gunfire as two groups of men clashed in Bolton.

Nine men were being questioned by police last night after a bullet casing, believed to be from a handgun, was found in Holmeswood Road, Great Lever.

Police were called after reports of a road accident at 10.20pm on Sunday.

They were approached by a man who said his car window had been shot at.

Police believe two groups of men — six in a Volkswagen Golf and three in a green Vauxhall Astra — had been involved in brawl in the street minutes earlier. The Golf had been attacked with a hammer and it is believed that a shot was fired which shattered its windscreen.

The Astra driver told police he had been attacked with an iron bar as someone tried to steal his car.

Police found a shell-casing on the street and the scene was cordoned off while forensic officers searched for clues. Ballistic experts were last night looking for bullet fragments in the Golf in a bid to confirm what kind of weapon it had been fired from.

Officers were dispatched to the arrested men’s homes to search for further evidence of firearms, but no gun or ammunition has yet been found.

It is thought a third vehicle might have also been involved.

Supt John Lyons, of Bolton Police, said: “I would like to reassure the public that a dedicated team of police officers has been assigned to get to the bottom of this incident.

“We take all firearm discharges extremely seriously, but I would say that this was an isolated incident it is not something we normally come across here in Bolton as firearms incidents are thankfully rare.”

Extra police officers were sent to patrol the area yesterday to reassure the public.

One Holmeswood Road resident said: “I’m not sure what happened. We don’t have problems with gangs around here any more.”

The nine men were arrested on suspicion of violent disorder.

In March last year, a taxi driver was robbed at gunpoint by four men whom he picked up at a house in Holmeswood Road. The incidents are not being linked by police.

Anyone with any information is asked to call Bolton CID on 0161 856 5740 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

pkeaveny@ theboltonnews.co.uk