TWO dangerous criminal s in Ndola have been shot dead in a heavy exchange of gunfire in which two anti-robbery squad officers were also killed as they attempted to thwart a daylight robbery involving over K300,000. Police gunned down another suspected bandit in Kitwe as he tried to stage a robbery. A member of the public was injured in the crossfire and is admitted to Ndola Teaching Hospital.
The two robbers were shot and killed in Nkwazi township in Ndola after snatching over K300,000 cash from a Star Bakery cashier. Two of their accomplices escaped and another robber was killed near Mufuchani bridge in Kitwe. Copperbelt police commissioner Charity Katanga named the slain officers as Detective Sergeants Ben Chilubula and Francis Kunda. She identified one of the criminals in the Ndola incident only as Phiri from Lusaka while the other two are yet to be identified.
Mrs Katanga said police recovered an airgun, two pistols, six rounds of ammunition and a police AK47 assault rifle that was used to kill the officers.
A pistol with eight rounds of ammunition was recovered in the Kitwe incident. “There was a theft to the tune of K300,000 by criminals who were nearby (Arusha Street) and monitoring the cashier who had the money and they fired about two shots in the air. They fled using the Misundu area in a vehicle with two registration numbers,” she said.
The incident happened between 09:00 hours and 09:30 hours. A Toyota Corolla with registration ACL4375 in front and ACL8838 at the back was the getaway vehicle. Police responded promptly and intercepted the four criminals near Nkwazi where one of them raised his hands to signal surrender after police fired warning shots.
An eye-witness said as Mr Chilubula, the police officer, was about to effect the arrest, the bandit reached for the officer’s firearm and the two wrestled for the gun, an AK47 rifle.
While wrestling for the gun, the firearm went off and the bullet hit the criminal in the leg but he continued his struggle and eventually overpowered the police officer and shot him four times. The officer died instantly.
The criminal immediately leaped into the bushes near Nkwazi with the firearm.
Mr Kunda, unarmed, kept trail of the wounded and armed criminal while police reinforced and others followed the three and managed to shoot Phiri but two others ran away.
As the trail continued, a carpenter, Erick Zulu, was injured in crossfire before Mr Kunda was killed.
One anti-robbery squad officer described the criminal as a trained person who would have killed more officers if he was not shot dead.
Mrs Katanga said police will continue to hunt for the suspected criminals until they are brought to book.