Two robbers were shot dead today as armed police foiled a bank raid.

One died at the scene in Chandlers Ford, Hampshire, and a second was taken to hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

The shooting, involving the Metropolitan Police Flying Squad, happened at a branch of the HSBC in Bournemouth Road, Chandlers Ford.

The gang are believed to have been targeting a security van outside the bank. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigating the shooting.

Scotland Yard confirmed today the Flying Squad had worked with Hampshire Police and armed police on the operation. A spokesman said: "The object of the operation was to prevent and apprehend those believed to be involved in an attempted armed robbery of a premises in Chandlers Ford.

"At approximately 10.05am, shots were fired and two men were shot. One was pronounced dead at the scene, the other was taken to a local hospital but died at approximately midday.

Residents described the dramatic scenes as armed officers swarmed into the rural town branch of HSBC.

Onlooker Lynn Ward, who works at the Alexander Keen estate agent next door to the HSBC bank, said she heard a loud bang and then shouts of "get down".

"I heard a loud bang ring out and initially thought it must be a traffic accident," she said. "But when I looked out of the window I saw a security van and two people on the floor with armed police stood over them. It was chaos and there was lots of shouting and screaming.

"It was then I realised it must have been gunshots. We immediately locked the doors and hid in the back. At the moment the whole precinct has been closed and nobody can get in or out.

"Chandlers Ford is a rural town and you certainly do not expect this kind of thing to happen. We are all very shocked but the police have come in and reassured us there is nothing to worry about now."

Witness Rob Holman, 41, from Chandlers Ford, who was driving past, told the Southern Daily Echo: "I heard a bang but then I heard two or three more and then immediately there were two cars filled with armed police rushing past.

"It was a long time before uniformed police arrived but there were so many armed police here they must have had a tip-off."

Melanie Chase, who lives above the bank, said: "I was in the bath when I heard someone shouting ’Get down, Get down’ and then I heard three shots. I looked out the window and saw blood everywhere on the floor. It was horrible."

Employees at Mann & Co estate agent, just yards from where the shooting happened just after 10am, rushed out of the back of their offices when they heard the gunshots. One said: "I knew it was the sound of bullets immediately. Everyone just ran to get as far away as possible.

"The police must have been tipped off. One customer told us they saw police officers running out of the public toilets just near to the bank and then they heard the shots. A police officer came in to talk to us and suggested one of the robbers had got away.

"I saw the body on the floor afterwards but it had been covered. This is out of the ordinary for sleepy Chandlers Ford so we are all a bit shook up."

A spokesman for HSBC confirmed no customers or staff were hurt in the incident. He said: "We are obviously very grateful because this violent incident appears to have had the potential to have been much worse."

Jamie Owens, 16, who lives above the bank, said he was woken by gunfire and saw two men, one of mixed race and the other white, lying in the road.

He said his neighbours told him they saw a third man escaping from the scene. They told him that they witnessed a security van pull up to the bank and the robbers put a gun to one of the guards’ heads demanding money. At this point they were shot.

Mr Owen said: "I heard two gunshots. I thought nothing of them. I thought it was just a car backfiring, then I heard a woman screaming, heard a lot of commotion and I saw the two men lying on the floor.

"Their clothes were stripped off them with tape on their chests as they tried to resuscitate them, but one wasn’t moving at all.

"There were 25 to 30 undercover police officers with Metropolitan Police across their caps with big machine guns. They were shouting at people that they can’t go home, they must leave the area. I saw a lot of police around. I saw a helicopter landing in the street."