Five police officers and a soldier have been shot dead during a raid on their station in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province.
In a statement, the South African Government News Agency said three officers were killed instantly.
The off-duty soldier was shot as the assailants fled, taking two other officers hostage. Their bodies were found 6km (4 miles) down the road.
A government statement said both men had been shot “execution style”.
The unknown group of armed robbers burst into the police station near Mthatha, and opened fire early on Wednesday morning.
Police do not yet know the motive for the attack. The suspects are believed to have robbed a cash machine shortly before. They took 10 firearms and a police van from the station.
Gen Khehla John Sitole, National Commissioner of the South African Police Service, has vowed to find the killers, saying he was “appalled and deeply saddened by the cold and callous attack”.
People on social media have been sharing their dismay at the attack.
One Facebook user, who was a family friend of the soldier killed, said: “An attack to the law enforcement institutions is an attack to the safety and security of our communities.
“This is a shock for the community. We now live in fear. If they can attack the people meant to protect the community‚ who are we? Who will we turn to?”
The BBC’s South Africa correspondent Milton Nkosi says that before this attack, research found the killings of police officers had dropped by 52% since the end of apartheid in 1994.