News24, photo: AP
Zimbabwe - A suspected poacher has shot dead two police officers and his alleged accomplice in south-eastern Zimbabwe, local media reported on Friday.
The incident occurred during a police raid on Tuesday on a village in the remote south-east of the country, said the state-run Manica Post.
The paper said the police had received a tip-off that the village was harbouring poachers and weapons. The two police sergeants had handcuffed a 22-year-old suspect, Chaita Simango and wanted to conduct a search of his house.
“Little did they know that the unknown armed poacher was following their conversation from inside,” the paper reported.
“As Simango led the officers into the house, the suspect suddenly opened fire.”
A police statement quoted separately by the state-run Chronicle newspaper said the two officers and Simango were killed instantly.
A third police officer escaped the shooting and reported the murders. The poacher - whose identity is unknown - fled the scene and police were now hunting for him.
The Manica Post said the village where the incident occurred was near to Chipangayi Game Park, which is in the Chipinge Safari Area - a sanctuary for some of the country’s endangered black rhinos.
In February a rhino and her calf - which had been previously dehorned to deter poachers - were found poisoned at a water hole in Chipinge. Rangers managed to find the carcasses before the poachers returned to remove the horn stumps.
Zimbabwe is on high alert for poachers after 60 elephants were recently poisoned with cyanide in Hwange National Park, in the west of the country.
There have been several other poisoning incidents reported in separate wildlife areas since September.
Last weekend police arrested eight suspected cyanide poachers in two separate locations near to Hwange. One of the poachers, found in possession of ivory, has already been sentenced to a 10-year jail term.