At about 5.30pm on July 12 last year three young Asian man strolled into Keighley's B&Q store and hovered by the selection of hardware tools on display.

Within a few minutes the friends - who referred to each other as Monkey, Zed and Taff - had selected three hammers and three axes, handed over the required cash and were back out of the door.

While it may have seemed a rather peculiar purchase, it was certainly nothing to warrant any real suspicion from the staff who served them.

But over a two-day period, other associates of the trio had been doing a little shopping of their own. And, taken together, the collective list of items gave a clearer indication of the gang's deadly intentions.

At the nearby Speaks outdoor pursuits store they bought seven full-face balaclava masks while they picked up four pairs of golfing gloves from JJB sports.

The next stop was a local garage where they splashed out on a battered looking Volvo 840 and a Rover 820.

And then all there was left for them to do was sit and wait to put their plan into action.

By 11pm on the 13th - the time Qadir Ahmed usually finished playing football at the Keighley Leisure Centre - the gang were fully prepared for their ambush.

As Ahmed's Rover 25 pulled on to one of Keighley's busiest traffic routes, the two cars began tailing him, packed with the masked and heavily armed gang members.

Then, wth a roar of engines and crunch of metal, the cars slammed into the hatchback, forcing it off the road.

In a state of panic, Ahmed leapt out of the car - leaving his friend Nasar Ali behind - and made a desperate dash for safety, despite his knee being strapped from a recent football injury. He stumbled 300 yards with the chasing pack making up ground every second.

It was on the roundabout by Victoria Park that the chase ended, Ahmed falling to the ground under a hail of blows. Within just a few seconds of frenzied violence, he had suffered 28 separate wounds and died from an axe blow to the head.

Ahmed's killing was just one episode of a bloody turf war between violent drug gangs supplying heroin and cocaine in Keighley. Over several months, Keighley police launched investigations into 34 related matters including four murders and a full-scale street battle during which several shots were fired.

In one of them - a double gang-related murder in the Highfield area - Ahmed was spotted at the scene within minutes of the violence. He was alleged to have driven away a man accused - and later cleared of - killing Zaber Hussain.

Hussain himself was alleged to have been involved in the murder of law student Yasser Khan who was bludgeoned to death in Back Gordon with a slab of Yorkshire stone in December 2001. Minutes after the attack, Hussain received fatal stab wounds in nearby Belgrave Road in an apparent act of immediate retribution.

Another of the gangland murders involved 16-year-old Yasser Hussain Nazir - the brother of Mohammed Rafiq, one of Ahmed's own killers - who was shot dead as he pulled up in a Bradford petrol station.

Sitting in the ambushed car at the time were two more of Ahmed's killers, Monkey and Zulfi.

For his own part, Ahmed was a convicted drug dealer who also dabbled in buying and selling stolen cars. On the day he was to die, he had been dealing in heroin and crack cocaine.

The 24-year-old was a member of the 'Top End' or 'Top-enders' gang, so called because they lived and gathered around the elevated Highfield area of the town.

His killers were from the Lawkolme Lane area, the home of the 'Bottomenders' who had been embroiled in the bloody gang war for several months.

Although both groups were involved in drug dealing, and this may have initially sparked dispute, the real reason for the bloodshed was a simple case of hatred of 'the other side'.

And the blatant nature of the attack - on a busy roundabout at 11pm - highlighted how, over a period of time, the thugs had grown to believe they had become above the law and 'untouchable'.

The 'bottom end' gang's headquarters, provided a telling insight into their way of thinking. It was in a flat above a business in Thwaites Lane that the gang gathered to 'cut' and take drugs and store their weapons.

On one of the walls there hung a picture of the notorious Chicago gangster Al Capone, clearly a criminal idol to the members.

It will probably never emerge whether the link between the Ahmed's killing and Capone's most notorious crimes was anything more than coincidence.

The Chicago gangster's most bloody act, the Valentine's Day Massacre, occurred on February 14 back in 1929. Qadir Ahmed met his untimely death within an hour of the same date in 2002.

By that point extreme violence had become a way of life for the members and they were sure that even local residents witnessed their attacks, they would simply be too scared to speak to the police.

Detective Superintendent Phil Sedgwick said: "It appears that the outbreaks were just escalating instances of tit-for-tat violence."

The scenario could often start with one gang member simply being stared at by a rival. In retaliation a car might be damaged or threats made in return.

"There were then instances of people being kidnapped, badly beaten up and then dumped somewhere," said Det Supt Sedgwick.

"It could all begin with a minor slight or perceived slight from the other side."

As each side 'upped the ante' the violence quickly spiralled out of control. As one police officer said: "All hell could break loose simply because someone was walking in the wrong street."

Det Supt Sedgwick said: "I think they felt they were above the law. They felt that no matter what they did, nobody would testify against them," he said.

But he added: "They acted like gangsters but in reality they were just thugs and criminals."