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Baton Rouge: US policing in crisis as three officers die in Louisiana shooting

Three US police officers have been killed and three others were wounded after a shooting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Police said the suspect was shot and killed at the scene. Authorities initially believed that two other assailants might be at large, but hours later said that no other active shooters were in the city.

President Barack Obama said the killings were attacks "on the rule of law and on civilised society, and they have to stop".

He said there was no justification for violence against law enforcement and that the attacks are the work of cowards who speak for no one.

The shooting - which took place just before 9am, less than a mile from police headquarters - came amid escalating tensions across the US between the black community and police. The races of the suspect and the officers were not immediately known.

It was the fourth high-profile deadly encounter in the United States involving police over the past two weeks.

The violence has left 12 people dead, including eight police officers, and sparked a national debate over race and policing.

The attack began at a petrol station on Airline Highway. The shooter's body was next door, outside a fitness centre.

Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards rushed to the hospital where the officers who were shot during the attack were taken.

"Rest assured, every resource available to the State of Louisiana will be used to ensure the perpetrators are swiftly brought to justice," Mr Edwards said.

A witness said he saw a masked man in black shorts and shirt running from the scene where the three officers were killed. Brady Vancel said the man looked like a pedestrian running with a rifle in his hand, rather than someone trained to move with a rifle.

Mr Vancel said he had gone to work on a flooring job near the petrol station when he heard semi-automatic gunfire and perhaps a handgun. He saw a man in a red shirt lying in an empty parking lot and "another gunman running away as more shots were being fired back and forth from several guns".

Yesterday afternoon, more than a dozen police cars with lights flashing were massed near a commercial area of car dealerships and chain restaurants on the highway.

That area was about a quarter of a mile from a petrol station, where almost nightly protests had been taking place.

Five officers were rushed to Our Lady Of The Lake Regional Medical Centre. Of the two who survived the shooting, one was in a critical condition and the other was in a fair condition.

Police-community relations in Baton Rouge have been especially tense since the death of 37-year-old Alton Sterling, a black man killed by white officers on July 5 after a scuffle at a convenience store.

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