Four armed men have been shot dead in a shootout with police during a robbery at a bakery in Port Elizabeth on Monday, provincial police said on Monday.
A police constable, 31, was also shot and wounded during the exchange of gunfire on the corner of Parliament and Rose streets.
Members of the Port Elizabeth flying squad had responded to a complaint of an armed robbery in progress at the bakery at about 08:45.
"As the police officers arrived, shots were fired. Police returned fire and as a result a police constable... was shot in the upper body. Four suspects who were in the shop were fatally wounded while it is alleged that a fifth suspect managed to escape," police said in a statement.
Three firearms that were recovered at the scene will be sent to the ballistic unit for testing and to establish if they have not been used in similar crimes in the province or elsewhere, according to the statement.
"The injured member was taken to hospital in a critical condition."
Cases of attempted murder, business robbery and an inquest were being investigated.
Police have appealed to anyone with information on the escaped suspect to come forward.
"We pray for a speedy recovery for our member who was shot and injured," said provincial commissioner Lieutenant General Liziwe Ntshinga.
"An attack on the members of the SAPS (South African Police Service) is condemned in the strongest terms and attacks on the police amount to an attack on the state, and for this reason we are determined to bring those responsible to justice," Ntshinga added.