A pair of murder suspects killed three police officers in a shootout after going on a carjacking spree in eastern China, a news report said Wednesday, a rare case of gun violence in a country where private firearms ownership is illegal.

Two civilians and four police officers were also wounded in the shootout in Tai'an city in the eastern coastal province of Shandong.

The suspects hijacked four cars in a row, shooting two of the drivers, before they were rammed by a squad car, the China Daily newspaper said.

Three officers died in the shootout with the gunmen, who were armed with a handmade pistol and a double-barreled shotgun. One of the suspects shot himself to death and another was taken into custody.

The paper said the men were suspects in a killing a month ago in nearby Dezhou city and had been hiding at the apartment of a relative in Tai'an.

China has little gun crime but has seen a rise in the black-market trade of smuggled and homemade weapons, prompting a nationwide crackdown last year on illegal firearms.