Armed police and dogs have been searching for a "killer clown" who threatened two young girls in Bury St Edmunds. The teenagers were approached by a machete-wielding man in a clown outfit at around 6.25pm on Saturday (15 October).

He fled after threatening to hurt them, leaving them shaken and upset by the incident, but uninjured, Sky News reports.

Firearms units and police dogs combed the streets, and woodland near Durham Close in search of the suspect, who could not be found, Suffolk Police confirmed.

It is the latest shocking incident in the"'killer clown craze" which began in the US, but is now sweeping across the UK, with hundreds of reported sightings of clowns wielding knives or baseball bats frightening children.

Cumbria Police said they have received 23 reports of "creepy clowns" incidents in the 24 hours. In Kent, police logged 59 reports of "killer clowns" between 7 and 10 October, while South Yorkshire has had 61 clown-related reports since 21 September.

One suspect wearing a clown mask and carrying a fake gun was arrested by police about five miles from Heathrow Airport. Children have also been targeted online, with a teenage girl receiving threats on Instagram.

The phenomenon has left many young children distressed, with charity Childline receiving 120 calls a week from children under the age of 11 upset by the clown sightings.

British police forces have issued guidance for anyone worried about a possible threat and issued a warning to those dressing up as clowns ahead of Halloween that they could face action.

A police spokesman told the BBC: "We are continuing to receive reports of the clown craze, which is causing distress and fear to people in our community. We appreciate that the majority of the public understand the impact and harm that this is causing, particularly to children.

"We are hoping that this craze will pass this week and we would urge the small minority of people still taking part to stop. Dressing up as a clown and deliberately trying to scare and intimidate others is causing a lot of distress to people and we will not tolerate it.

"This prank could lead to arrests for a public order offences, possession of offensive weapons or even assault."