Police in Papua New Guinea's Milne Bay Province have shot dead three men and injured two others thought to have been involved in piracy.
A number of villagers travelling by dinghy and other small boats in the area had made complaints about being held up and robbed.
A police spokesman, Dominic Kakas, says the officers were on routine marine patrol when the group, thought to be the thieves, chose the wrong boat to attack:
"We believe, at that point the criminals thought they were just other people, just ordinary people travelling to and fro and they were in the process of robbing them when the police confronted them. It's not a police boat it's just an ordinary boat on hire by the police."
Mr Kakas says it's unclear how the shooting started but investigations are now underway.
The two injured men were treated in hospital and discharged and they are now in police custody