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Johannesburg - Shots rang out in the dead of night as police closed in on suspected airport-heist gang members in Kempton Park on Thursday night.

And when the gunbattle which had been preceded by a high-speed chase along Barbara Road was over, one of the men lay dead while another was taken to hospital in a critical condition.

Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said police officers attached to the National Investigation Unit had been following up information in Isando regarding gunmen following people from OR Tambo International Airport and robbing them.

“While driving in Barbara Road the team spotted a BMW fitting the description from information received. The driver of the vehicle ignored warnings to stop and instead the occupants allegedly opened fire on the police, resulting in a shoot-out and a high-speed chase,” he said.

Naidoo said that during the chase the suspects drove against oncoming traffic through the streets of Isando, while continuing to shoot at the police.

“One suspect then jumped out of the moving vehicle and escaped. Shortly afterwards, the BMW came to a standstill. The driver jumped out and fled on foot,” he said.

Inside the car, with its engine still idling, police found two men with gunshot wounds.

One was declared dead on the scene while the other was taken to hospital where he is under police guard.

Officers recovered three firearms in the car which had been hijacked elsewhere, Naidoo said.

He added that the recovered firearms would be sent for ballistic tests to establish whether they were used in other crimes.

A manhunt was under way for the two suspects at large.

Thursday night’s incident comes just a month after a video went viral of two men being robbed at gunpoint in Lonehill, Sandton, after being followed from the airport.

In the video, two robbers were seen getting out of a vehicle carrying big guns, and walking behind the victims, who had been travelling in a white Toyota and waiting to pull into a boomed gate at an estate in Lonehill.

They were then seen pointing the guns at the victims, forcing one of them out of the back of the car and onto the ground.

The two robbers opened all the car doors and the boot, and searched it.

At one point one of the robbers climbed into the front passenger seat while pointing his gun at the driver.

It’s believed the men stole cellphones, an undisclosed amount of cash and the car keys.

The robbers jumped into the getaway car and sped off.

In January, an Angolan journalist was shot after robbers climbed into the taxi in which he and his crew were being transported from the airport to Sandton.

Two of the robbers forced their way into the taxi with one taking the wheel while the others robbed the occupants at gunpoint, taking money and cellphones from the journalists. While fleeing the scene the criminals then fired shots at the taxi. One of the bullets struck the journalist.

He was hospitalised for treatment and later discharged.

In a third incident also in January, two tourists were robbed of R100 000 at gunpoint after being followed to a guest house from the airport. The robbers stole their luggage, passports and airline tickets.

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The Star