Three people standing trial have been killed in a shootout at a courthouse in Moscow, Russian officials have said.

Five handcuffed defendants tried to escape as they were escorted by two guards at the Moscow Regional Court, according to Russia’s Investigative Committee, the country’s chief investigative body.

One of the defendants tried to strangle one of the guards, and the defendants managed to escape and seized the guards’ weapons, it said in a statement.

A shootout with the court’s guards ensued, and three of the defendants were killed while the two others were wounded.

The state-owned news agency RIA Novosti quoted a lawyer, Sofya Rubasskaya, who said she heard at least 20 shots.