Police have launched a manhunt following a chase and shootout in the Athens districts of Galatsi and Patissia on Thursday night.

The chase began in Galatsi, where police attempted to stop a Skoda car that had been reported as stolen.

The three passengers inside the car, which attempted to speed off but was cornered later in a side-street in Patissia, opened fire on police in patrol cars and motorcycles, who returned the shots, but the suspects seized a passing van from its driver.

The chase and exchange of fire continued, and on Acharnon street the suspects abandoned the van and seized another car from a passing driver, speeding off towards the Aghious Anargyrous district, where they managed to escape after once again abandoning the vehicle they were in.

Police are investigating the possibility that the suspects in Thursday's chase are the perpetrators of the killing of two DIAS motorcycle squad police officers in the Renti district near Piraeus on March 1.