JOHANNESBURG - South African police said a woman was shot dead and another injured when officers returned fire after they were "ambushed" during a community protest in Durban Monday.
Around 500 protestors surrounded a police vehicle in the city's restive Cato Manor suburb, stoning their van and shattering windows.
The officers had been responding to reports that protestors had blockaded a road, police spokesman Jay Naicker said.
"Police also heard gunshots emanating from the mob and realised that they were going to be killed. They then fired shots at the group and the suspects fled," he said.
He told AFP the two officers had used live ammunition "to protect their lives".
Police backup later found one woman killed. Another was injured and taken to hospital.
Authorities "don't know for a fact" if police bullets caused the casualties, Naicker said, adding that an independent watchdog was probing the incident.
But a spokesman for an association representing people living in shacks accused police of the 'murder', identifying the victim as 17-year-old Nqobile Nzuzua.
The community had protested at the lack of houses in the area and was angry because the government had not reacted to earlier petitions, Mnikelo Ndabankulu said.