THREE people injured in a car crash in Bury were then attacked with baseball bats and knives by a gang of men from two pursuing vehicles.

One of the victims — a 30 year-old man — is fighting for his life in hospital after suffering multiple fractures and swelling on the brain.

It is understood that a Vauxhall Astra was being chased by two other cars before it smashed sideways into a tree in Radcliffe Road, outside Derby High School. The occupants were then repeatedly hit and stabbed in what police describe as an “exceptionally violent” incident.

The back seat passenger, who lives in Bolton, managed to get out of the car before coming under attack and is in a life-threatening condition in Salford Royal Hospital.

The driver and front seat passenger, aged 27 and 35, suffered minor stab wounds and cuts to the head, and had to be cut free by firefighters.

Police say they do not yet know what the motive was for the attack, which happened at 12.40am on Tuesday.

Detective Chief Inspector Lynne Vernon, of Bury CID, said: "This was an exceptionally violent incident that will quite rightly shock the community.

"One man is now fighting for his life and two others received less serious injuries. We are at a very early stage of the investigation and cannot speculate on what led up to this incident. We also do not have a full description of the pursuing vehicles.”

Roy Grundy, watch commander at Bury Fire Station, said: “We used cutting equipment and took the roof off the car to extracate the two men. It took about half an hour to get them free.

“We were in liason with paramedics from the specialist HART team throughout.”

Neighbours awoke on Tuesday morning to find the road was still closed off.

Matt Garside, aged 27, who lives opposite the crash scene, said: “I woke up around the time it happened because the dog was barking but I did not think to look outside.

“It was only when I got up in the morning and saw all the police that I realised something had happened.

“People are always drag racing up and down here late at night because it is a straight road. It goes on pretty much every night.

“It looks like the car had been nudged off the road because there are dents in the side where it did not hit the tree.”

Resident Mahmood Hussain said: “We heard some noise but did not get up to look, I just thought it was people shouting and messing about.

“It was a shock to get up and see all the police here and road closed off.”

Another neighbour, who asked not to be named, said she heard three bangs like a car being rammed into another.

She said: “I was awake and I heard the noise outside and got up to look. I heard one man shout for help just once, and I saw a black car speed off.

“Then the emergency services arrived. I could not really make out what had gone on.”

The road remained closed until shortly after 11am, but an alternative route was used by Derby High pupils to access the school and it did not cause disruption to teenagers sitting exams.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Bury CID on 0161 856 8150 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.