REUTERS - Three police officers were shot to death and three others were wounded in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Sunday, the city's mayor said, as the country remained on edge in the wake of police shootings of black men and the killings of five Dallas officers.
The officers in Baton Rouge were responding to a call of shots fired when they were ambushed by at least one gunman, Mayor Kip Holden told NBC News.
One suspect is dead and police are checking the shooting scene with a robot to make sure there are no explosives, Baton Rouge Police spokesman L'Jean Mckneely said.
Police told reporters authorities are seeking more than one suspect and said the public should be on the lookout for people dressed in black and carrying long guns.
President Barack Obama strongly condemned the shootings, saying there was "no justification" for the violence, while Republican presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump responded to the killing by renewing his call for greater leadership and "law and order."
"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?" Trump posted on Facebook. "We demand law and order."
"We may not yet know the motives for this attack, but I want to be clear: There is no justification for violence against law enforcement. None. These attacks are the work of cowards who speak for no one," Obama said in a statement.
The president added that he has offered the "full support of the federal government" to Louisiana's governor, Baton Rouge's mayor and local law enforcement. "Justice will be done," he said.
Earlier, a spokesman for the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office said police and sheriff's deputies were involved in the shooting incident, which occurred around 9 A.M. local time.
"Multiple officers from both agencies sustained injuries and were transported to local hospitals," he said in an email. One of the shot law enforcement officers is in critical condition while another is in fair condition, a local hospital said.
While the scene of the shootings was contained, police warned residents to stay away from the area, near Airline Highway, which is a mile from the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters, where dozens of protesters were arrested earlier this month.
Two nearby hospitals were on lockdown, CBS reported. Efforts to confirm the report were not immediately successful.
It was not immediately clear whether there is a link between Sunday's shootings and the recent unrest over police killings of black men in Baton Rouge and Minnesota.
A wave of protests against police violence in Baton Rouge and other cities erupted after Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old African-American father of five, was shot and killed at close quarters by law enforcement officers on July 5.
At a rally in Dallas to protest Sterling's killing and a similar incident in Minnesota, a gunman opened fire on white officers, killing five of them.
The Black Lives Matter civil rights movement has called for police to end racial profiling, bringing the issue to national attention ahead of the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election.
The Justice Department, which has opened a federal probe into Sterling's death, declined to comment on Sunday's shootings.
A White House official said President Barack Obama has been briefed on the shooting of police officers in Baton Rouge and will be updated throughout the day. The official added that the White House has also been in contact with local officials and has offered assistance.