Armed men broke into a police station in Ngcobo, Eastern Cape of South Africa, on Wednesday morning, killing five police officers.
Three of the officers were shot dead inside the station while two were reportedly kidnapped before being killed and left on the side of the road.
An off-duty soldier was also shot dead as the suspects fled the scene.
Two male officers who were wounded and transferred to hospital, have since been discharged.
“This incident happened in the early hours of the morning when armed robbers, or what we suspect is armed robbers, entered the station, randomly opened fire on the police officers on duty,” Vishnu Naidoo, spokesman of the police, said.
South Africa’s police minister, Fikile Mbalula, called the attack a national tragedy.
“The killing of our law enforcement officers robs us of dedicated servants of our people whose only sin was to serve and protect,” Mbalula said on Twitter.
Police do not yet know the motive for the attack. The suspects are believed to have robbed a cash machine shortly before.
They took 10 firearms and a police van from the station.
Khehla Sitole, national commissioner of the South African Police Service, has vowed to find the killers, saying he was “appalled and deeply saddened by the cold and callous attack”.