JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A South African woman was killed and another injured on Monday after police fired into a crowd of protesters who had attacked a police vehicle, a spokesman said.
The incident is the latest in a series of clashes between police and protesters angry over poor public services and it increases pressure on President Jacob Zuma's government ahead of elections next year.
A crowd of around 500 people ambushed police called in to investigate a blockaded road in the coastal city of Durban. They hurled stones at the police car and tried to drag out the two officers, the South African Police Service said in a statement.
"Police also heard gunshots emanating from the mob and realized (the two officers) were going to be killed. They then fired shots at the group and the suspects fled," it said.
South African police have faced accusations of heavy-handedness in quelling protests staged to demand better wages and working conditions, especially in the mining sector. More than 50 people have been killed in protests since late last year, including 34 striking miners killed by police.
The police have said they will use force if necessary to protect property and lives during such demonstrations.
Many black South Africans remain mired in poverty nearly 20 years after the end of white minority apartheid rule.
(Reporting by Stella Mapenzauswa, editing by Gareth Jones)