Canadian police kill two gunmen in bank shootout, find potential bomb
Police car lights (Shutterstock)

Canadian police shot dead two men during a gunfight on Tuesday at a bank in British Columbia which left six officers injured, and nearby homes were evacuated after the discovery of a possible explosive device, police said.

Emergency response team members arrived on the scene at the Bank of Montreal in Saanich, on Vancouver Island, near the border with the U.S. state of Washington, around 11 a.m. (1800 GMT), law enforcement said.

"This remains an ongoing police incident with a heavy police presence in the area," according to a statement posted by Saanich, British Columbia, police on their website.

"Homes and businesses in close proximity to the scene of the incident have been evacuated due to the presence of a potential explosive device in a vehicle associated to the suspects."

Later, police said they were lifting the shelter-in-place order but that the block near the bank remained closed over the potential bomb.

The suspects were "heavily armed" and initial reports suggest they were wearing body armor, Saanich police chief Dean Duthie told a press conference, saying he did not have any further information about them.

Six officers were taken to hospital with gunshot wounds.

"At this time we anticipate that some officers will be released following emergency treatment, whereas other officers sustained very serious injuries and have been taken into surgery," he said.

(Additional reporting by Rami Ayyub in Washington; Writing by Costas Pitas; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Stephen Coates)