A police officer was shot in the thigh during a police pursuit on Sunday, when the occupants of the vehicle being chased opened fire on the police car coming up behind them.

The incident occurred shortly before noon outside Livadia when a traffic police patrol hailed a black Audi with two people on board and ordered it to pull over at the entrance to the city on the Livadia-Arachova ring road. Instead of stopping, however, the Audi picked up speed and drove off in the direction of Arachova.

Two police patrol cars gave chase but, coming around a bend in the road roughly three kilometres further down, they found the Audi had stopped and its occupants waiting in ambush, opening fire on the police cars as they came around the corner.

One of the bullets penetrated the door of the unarmoured police vehicle, injuring the driver in the thigh. The two men then got back into their vehicle and disappeared.A larger police sweep of the entire area was launched imme-diately and a black Audi, possibly the one being driven by the two suspects, was soon afterward found abandoned.

The injured police officer has been taken to Livadia hospital.

Livadia police said that the police had sought to inspect the vehicle as part of an investigation taking place in the area over the past few days into a series of robberies targeting bank ATM machines. Eye witnesses had reported seeing a black Audi at the scene of the robberies but police have not yet confirmed whether this was the vehicle involved.

The Audi found by police is now being searched for clues, while a manhunt is underway to find and arrest the two shooters.