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Manhunt underway in New Zealand after 2 police officers injured in shooting

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June 18 (UPI) — Police in New Zealand said a manhunt is underway for a suspect who shot and “seriously injured” two officers after being pulled over for a routine traffic stop.

The shooting happened at around 10:30 a.m. in the Massey neighborhood of West Auckland, Waitemata District Commander Naila Hassan said in a statement.

The suspect then fled the scene, striking a bystander with their car, who has been injured, Hassan said.

“Police have a large presence actively searching for the offender,” Hassan said. “Cordons are in place and schools in the immediate area have been advised to lockdown.”

Massey High School confirmed it has followed lockdown procedures, and all staff and students are within the school buildings.

“Please be aware that the incident IS NOT in close proximity to the school and this is a precautionary measure only,” the school said in a statement on its website.

Paula Bennett, a local politician, tweeted her sympathies to the families of those injured, stating, “we are all with you at this time.”

“A love for their community, a real desire to protect and serve,” she said. “There are no words to express my sincere sadness as they and their families deal with the worst possible event.”

Gun violence is relatively low in New Zealand compared to other countries but it has been on the rise. In 2019, there were 3,540 instances where a suspect was found in possession of a weapon, which was the highest tally since 2009, according to Radio New Zealand.

Last summer, New Zealand initiated a gun buy-back program after a gunman killed 51 people at two mosques during a shooting in Christchurch in March 2019.

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