Two Australian police officers and a bystander were fatally shot Monday in an ambush at a remote property in Queensland state as officers were investigating reports of a missing person, police said.
At least two gunmen were reported to have opened fire as police arrived at the rural property in Wieambilla.
Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll confirmed the three deaths at a news briefing. She would not provide further details saying the search for the gunmen was still underway.
She said that four officers arrived at the property, two were shot dead along with a member of the public, one was grazed by a bullet and another escaped.
The gunmen remained on the run and were said to have taken police communication equipment, allowing them to track police movements as the search continued.
A police emergency declaration remained in place on Monday evening for the Wieambilla area, where residents were told to stay indoors until further notice.
Specialist police were also deployed.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese described “terrible scenes in Wieambilla and a heartbreaking day for the families and friends of the Queensland Police officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.”
“My condolences to all who are grieving tonight – Australia mourns with you,” Albanese wrote on Twitter.
The area is sparsely populated and has several large properties and gas fields.