Black-clad gunman kills three police 'lured' to Louisiana ambush

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A gunman who killed three police officers and wounded three others in Baton Rouge, Louisiana was a US Marine Corps veteran, a US government official says.

Officers were responding to a call of shots fired when they were shot in what Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden described as "an ambush-style deal."

Louisiana State Police Superintendent Colonel Mike Edmonson said the gunman behind the shootings was killed and there are no suspects at large. The motive was not immediately clear.

"Baton Rouge officers at a convenience store observed the individual. He was wearing all black standing behind a beauty supply store holding a rifle," Colonel Edmonson told reporters.

The suspect has been identified by a US official as Gavin Long, a former US Marine. A source told the Reuters news agency Long was 29 and from Kansas City, Missouri.

Investigators also said there was reason to believe a 911 call may have been used to lure police to the shooting scene and that the possibility it had been a conspiracy was being examined, according to the Reuters source.

One of the wounded police officers is the sheriff's deputy, 41, who is in a critical condition and "fighting for his life as we speak," Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said. The other two officers were in stable condition.

Two city police officers, a 32-year-old with 10 years of service and a 41-year-old with just under a year on the force, died in the attack, said Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr.

Also among the dead was an East Baron Rouge Parish sheriff's deputy, who was 45, Mr Gautreaux said.

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Corporal L'Jean McKneely, a spokesman for the local sheriff's office, said officers used a robot to check the gunman who had been shot dead had not been carrying explosives, but stressed that was only a precaution.

Witness Brady Vancel told local WAFB television he saw what may have been gang members shooting at each other before police arrived.

"This has nothing to do with any situation," he said, referring to controversies surrounding a series of high-profile shootings involving police that have shocked the country over the last several weeks.

The shooting took place along a highway about 9:00am (local time).

The shootings come a week after a wave of protests against police violence in Baton Rouge and other cities after a 37-year-old father of five was shot and killed at close quarters by law enforcement officers.

At one of the demonstrations in Dallas, a gunman opened fire on white officers assigned to the protest, killing five of them.

'We demand law and order'

President Barack Obama condemned the "attack on law enforcement in Baton Rouge," and said "the death of these three brave officers underscores the danger that police across the country confront every single day."

"We as a nation have to be loud and clear that nothing justifies violence against law enforcement," he said after describing the shooting of the police officers as "a cowardly and reprehensible assault" in an earlier statement.

Democratic presidential candidate Hilary Clinton said "we must all stand together to reject violence and strengthen our communities."

"Today's devastating assault on police officers in Baton Rouge is an assault on all of us," she said in a statement.

While the scene of the shootings was contained police warned residents to stay away from the area, near Airline Highway, which is less than 2 kilometres from the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters, where dozens of protesters were arrested earlier this month.

PHOTO: Police officers block off a road after the shooting in Baton Rouge. (Reuters: Joe Penney)

"This is an unspeakable and unjustified attack on all of us at a time when we need unity and healing," Governor John Bel Edwards said in a statement.

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

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump renewed his call for greater leadership and "law and order" in the wake of the killings.

"We grieve for the officers killed in Baton Rouge today. How many law enforcement and people have to die because of a lack of leadership in our country?" Mr Trump, the party's presumptive presidential nominee posted on Facebook.

"We demand law and order."

The shootings come on the eve of the start of the Republican Presidential Convention, being held in Cleveland, Ohio.

PHOTO: A highway is blocked after the shooting in Baton Rouge. (Reuters: Joe Penney)



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