BRISBANE: Two police officers were among six victims of a shooting incident in Australia's Queensland state, police said on Tuesday, adding that a major investigation is underway.
The incident took place in the Western Downs on Monday afternoon when four police officers were attending to a property on Wains Road at Wieambilla in relation to a missing person investigation, reports Xinhua news agency.
As they were approaching the property, two police officers -- Matthew Arnold, 26, and Rachel McCrow, 29 -- were shot dead by two armed offenders, and a member of the public was also shot and killed.
Two other police officers were taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The alleged offenders, two men and a woman, were fatally shot during a confrontation with police shortly after 10.30 p.m. on Monday.
An emergency declaration was announced around the neighbourhood and a crime scene has been established at the property.
The National broadcaster ABC news reported that local residents were told to stay indoors until further notice and multiple ambulances were called to the scene.
Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said this is the largest loss of life the Queensland Police Service has suffered in one single incident in recent times and a sad reminder of the unpredictable nature of policing.
General president of the Queensland Police Union Ian Leavers described the killing as a ruthless and cold-blooded "execution", said ABC news.
"Police were responding to a call for a service for a missing person, it was simply that ... as soon as they entered the property, they were inundated with gunfire and they never had a chance," he said.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese expressed condolences to the victims. "Terrible scenes in Wieambilla and a heartbreaking day for the families and friends of the Queensland Police officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty," he tweeted on Tuesday.
"My condolences to all who are grieving tonight (Monday night) -- Australia mourns with you."
Australia introduced some of the world's strictest gun regulations after 35 people were killed in a massacre by a lone gunman at Port Arthur, Tasmania, in 1996.
Since then, there have been only three mass shootings -- defined in Australia as those resulting in at least four deaths, excluding perpetrators.