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Police officers shot in New Zealand siege

A gunman opened fire at a police plane that was searching for cannabis in rural New Zealand, police say. Several police officers were wounded, one of them seriously, in the subsequent siege.

The shooter wounded three officers who tried to arrest him, while another one was shot in the hand sometime later, Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement said on Wednesday.

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

By Wednesday evening, police had surrounded the suspect's house in the remote North Island town of Kawerau, with the New Zealand military providing three light-armored vehicles and a helicopter.

Clement provided no further details, citing the ongoing investigation and still unresolved siege.

"[The gunman] might indeed be watching us now on his own television," he said.

AOS at the scene

According to officials, the shooter drew police attention by taking potshots at a plane used in an anti-drug operation. None of the police employees on board were injured in the incident.

The four people wounded on the ground were all members of the Armed Offenders Squad (AOS), the special police branch for stopping active shooters. Regular police in New Zealand do not carry firearms.

However, residents over 16 years of age can apply for a firearms license after passing a safety course.

dj/msh (AFP, AP)

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