Four New Zealand police shot in drugs siege

Wednesday 09 March 2016 23.08
The siege began after a person began shooting during an anti-drugs operation
The siege began after a person began shooting during an anti-drugs operation

New Zealand police have said four officers were shot during a siege at a rural property that began when a person began shooting at an aircraft being used in an anti-drugs operation.

One officer was in a serious but stable condition and the injuries sustained by the other three were not life threatening, Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement said.

He said the siege  began after a police plane searching for cannabis came under fire near the remote North Island town of Kawerau.

The Armed Offenders Squad (AOS) was deployed and four of its officers were shot in a stand-off at a property.

"It is always distressing for us all when officers are injured doing their duty," he told reporters in Wellington.

Deputy Commissioner Clement said no one was injured aboard the plane that came under fire, adding that indications pointed to a lone offender, but he was unable to go into too much detail.

Regular police in New Zealand do not carry firearms, relying on the specialist AOS.

The country tightened its gun laws to restrict access to semi-automatic rifles in 1992, two years after a man shot dead 13 people in the South Island town of Aramoana.

However, anyone over 16 can apply for a standard firearms licence after doing a safety course, which allows them to purchase and use a shotgun unsupervised.