LONDON (AFP) - Police hunting the killer of an 11-year-old boy who was shot as he played football in the city of Liverpool have arrested a 16-year-old boy on suspicion of murder, they said Friday.

Rhys Jones was gunned down on Wednesday night by a hooded teenager riding a BMX bicycle. Two youths aged 18 and 14 were arrested by police Thursday and later released on bail.

Merseyside Police said they were examining an abandoned bicycle which was found in Liverpool, north-west England.

The boy's death has provoked deep soul-searching in Britain, which has seen a rash of high-profile shootings of young people in inner cities this year. Prime Minister Gordon Brown condemned the shooting as "a heinous crime that has shocked the whole of the country."

His government has pledged tough action on crime and to crack down on gang culture among some young people. The arrest came hours after Rhys's parents visited the scene of his death to lay flowers and police made a direct plea to the killer to hand himself in.

Assistant Chief Constable Patricia Gallan described the slaying as "vicious" and Rhys as "an innocent", adding: "The answers are within the community."

While gun crime represents less than half a percent of all recorded offences in Britain, official figures show that the number of crimes involving firearms has been increasing since the Labour Party came to power in 1997.

The number of young people prosecuted over firearms offences jumped 20 percent between 2001 and 2005 to 1,444.


This happened here in my city, and there is a big commotion about it. I was wondering why there is such a high number of teenagers going to the crime life? Not only firearms, rapes too.

"Yes, I'm grounded
Got my wings clipped
I'm surrounded by
All this pavement"

~ John Mayer