POLICE in Ndola have shot dead four criminals after a heavy exchange of gunfire and recovered an AK47 rifle and 11 rounds of ammunition.
Two other bandits eluded the police who had surrounded a shop which was about to be robbed in Chifubu Township.
Copperbelt Province police chief Mary Tembo confirmed the shooting of the four bandits, who included a Congolese national at Chifubu Shopping Centre on Thursday night as they attempted to stage a robbery.
Ms Tembo said the robbers were only identified by their nicknames, Solo Mulenga, Lasko, Chinyama and another suspected to be a Congolese national known as Kadoka.
She said the robbers were former convicts who had just been released from prison after serving jail terms for various offences, including aggravated robbery.
"We suspect that the two could have been wounded in the shooting. If anyone comes across suspicious looking people with wounds, they should report to the nearest police station," she said.
She explained that police were trailing the robbers after a tip from members of the public that they wanted to snatch money from a shop in Lubuto before they drove to Chifubu Township.
Ms Tembo said the robbers were using different vehicles to stage robberies from shops and homes in the recent past in Ndola.
They arrived at Chifubu Market around 20:30 hours and fired shots at Major Trading Shop to scare the owner, but police had closed in and confronted them.
A heavy exchange of fire ensued while the bandits attempted to escape in their 'getaway' grey Toyota Sprinter, registration Number ACG 8148. It was at this point that the four were killed.
There was jubilation from members of the public following the shooting of the thieves and some formed a convoy with a police van that was transporting the bodies. The motorists hooted in excitement as some people cheered.
A Times team which rushed to police provincial headquarters around 21:30 hours found police had displayed the bodies with some curious onlookers jostling to have a glimpse of them.
A check at Chifubu Police Post showed that the getaway car was sprayed with bullets including the tyres and there was blood splashed all over the motor vehicle.