One of Britain's biggest manhunts ended in dramatic scenes yesterday with fugitive gunman Raoul Moat shooting himself dead during a tense armed stand-off with police, AFP reported.

After gradually closing the net on Moat, who had been on the run for a week after a deadly shooting rampage, armed police surrounded him in the country village at the very epicentre of the massive manhunt.

They cornered the 37-year-old bouncer by a riverbank late on Friday (local time) and negotiated for six hours into the rainy night when the wanted man killed himself.

In a search that brought in police officers from across the kingdom, Moat was finally captured in Rothbury, north of Newcastle in northeast England.

He was wanted for shooting dead his ex-girlfriend's new partner, and seriously injuring her plus a policeman in the Newcastle area shortly after being released from prison.

In letters left for detectives he claimed to be a "killer and a maniac", declared "war" on the police and said he would not stop killing "till I'm dead".

Police said they found the father-of-three in Rothbury at around 7pm on Friday, according to the AFP report.

"Raoul Thomas Moat was discovered by police in the vicinity of the riverbank and he was armed," Northumbria Police said in a statement.

"Expert negotiators were brought in to speak to him and spoke to him extensively for several hours.

"At around 1.15am, from information available at the moment, it appears the suspect shot himself. No shots were fired by police officers.

"No officers have been injured."

He rushed by ambulance to Newcastle General Hospital. Moat was seen being carried in on a stretcher, with a blanket covering his head.

The search for Moat closed in quickly.

It had focused on the wild terrain around Rothbury after a car linked to him was found abandoned there.

Detectives arrested two people accused of helping him, found three of his mobile phones and released photographs of camping equipment including a tent and sleeping bag which he and accomplices are thought to have used.

They said they had "recovered valuable information".

Armed police had imposed a lockdown around Rothbury for days and within hours threw an exclusion zone around part of the village as the siege began, with those stuck inside ordered to stay in their homes.

The search for Moat brought in officers from 15 forces, including specialist snipers, and armoured all-terrain cars from Northern Ireland. A Royal Air Force plane with imaging equipment also joined the search.

Moat had been serving an 18-week sentence for assault.

It is the second gun rampage in quick succession in England's most northerly counties.

On June 2, taxi driver Derrick Bird killed 12 people before turning the gun on himself in Cumberland in a shooting spree that shocked the quiet, rural area.