seven people after a man was attacked in his flat by six thugs believed to be armed with a gun.

Residents say they were woken in the middle of night by “horrendous screaming” during the attack.

The assault occurred in a first floor flat at the junction of Fleetwood Avenue and London Road, Westcliff, at about 3am on Wednesday.

Three men and two women were arrested by armed police two hours later on suspicion of assault and possession of firearms, after a dramatic showdown in Hamlet Court Road.

A further two arrests were made at an address in Eastwood and the seven suspects were taken to Basildon and Southend police stations for questioning.

The injured man, in his twenties, was initially thought to have been stabbed, but this was later discounted by the ambulance service.

He was taken to Southend Hospital with injuries to his chest and abdomen, but police were yesterday unable to confirm his condition.

Residents in Fleetwood Avenue said they were woken by screams.

One woman, who did not want to be named, said: “I was woken at 3am by horrendous screaming and I knew straight away something serious was going on.

“I could hear a lot of running around and people running up and down the stairs. It was so intense. I was really scared about what was happening.

“I heard someone say ‘I’ve been stabbed, I’ve been stabbed’, then someone ran down the stairs and ran away.

Then it went quiet.”

Pete Blanchard was also woken by shouting and blue lights outside his Claremont Close flat, in Westcliff, which looks out over Hamlet Court Road, at about 5.15am.

He said: “There were two police cars behind what looked to be a dark-coloured Lexus saloon and police were outside the car shouting instructions.

“They told the people in the car to put their hands out of the windows, before they led them out one by one with their hands above their heads.

“The whole thing lasted no longer than 15 to 20 minutes.

“You see things go on around here from time to time, but I haven’t seen anything like this in years.”

A police spokesman confirmed reports of an assault Fleetwood Avenue at 3am. He said: “Officers attended the scene and a man was taken to hospital for treatment.

“Following substantial police inquiries, a vehicle was stopped in Hamlet Court Road and five people, two men and three men, were arrested.

“A 21-year-old woman, 25- year-old man, 27-year-old man, 23-year-old woman and a 24- year-old woman were arrested in Hamlet Court Road, on suspicion of assault and possession of a firearm.

“A 24-year-old man was arrested in Eastwood on suspicion of possession of a firearm.

“Another man was arrested and later released without charge.”