It was a fierce battle field for the criminals and their family in South Africa. The heartless men targeted to bring down the armed police men. Eight suspected ATM bombers and one police officer were shot dead in Hammarsdale, KwaZulu-Natal police said on Monday.

The 44-year-old National Intervention Unit warrant officer was killed when police confronted a group of eight suspected ATM bombers in the Hammarsdale industrial area on Sunday night, Brigadier Jay Naicker said on Monday.

Police had responded to information about a potential ATM bombing.

The criminals fled the scene, but police tracked them to nearby bushes, where another shootout broke out. Three members of the group were killed.

The other five fled to a homestead in the Mophela area, where police shot and killed them during another gunfight.

Police confiscated two rifles, four handguns, five explosive devices, two detonators, a gas mask, a goggle, a pair of gloves, and two cars.

Acting provincial commissioner Major Bheki Langa expressed his condolences to the family of the officer who was killed.

Naicker said the provincial organised crime unit was investigating the crime. The Independent Police Investigative Directorate had also been informed.