Picture: Ivandrei Pretorius/Pexels

WELKOM - A suspect was shot dead during an operation to recover assault rifles in Thabong near Welkom at the weekend, Free State police said on Monday.

Police spokesperson Colonel Thandi Mbambo said members of the Tactical Response Team and Public Order Police were busy with an operation in which two Lesotho citizens were confronted about being in possession of the assault rifles.

"As the police were about to effect an arrest, one of the suspect allegedly cocked and pointed the rifle at one of the members," Mbambo said.

"The [police] member reacted swiftly and fired a shot that hit the suspect in the stomach. He was declared dead at the scene."

The identity of the deceased man is unknown. The second suspect managed to flee the scene.

Officers recovered three assault rifles at the scene.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) is investigating the shooting.

African News Agency (ANA)