Three of the four PLA soldiers from a military base in Jilin province, who fled after stealing a rifle and nearly 800 bullets, were shot dead yesterday, police and mainland media said. Traffic police in the province's Jilin city said in a microblog post that officers shot dead the three soldiers, while the fourth one was injured. It said one police officer was wounded in the crossfire from the shoot-out with the four soldiers in neighbouring Liaoning province's Yingkou city. The Shulan police station, which operates under the Public Security Bureau of Jilin city, issued an urgent notice yesterday morning warning banks and jewellery shops to be on alert after the soldiers fled with the automatic rifle and 795 rounds. The name and location of the military base were not given. The statement said the four men were a 23-year-old non-commissioned officer and three soldiers aged from 18 to 19, who fled the military camp between 4.30am and 6am yesterday. It said police were trying to locate the four men and suggested that some small bank branches and jewellery shops suspend business. Reasons for the soldiers' actions remained unclear. Dr Zeng Zhiping, an expert on military law at the Nanchang Institute of Technology in Jiangxi, said the incident exposed the poor management of weapons at the Jilin military base. The retired lieutenant colonel said soldiers stealing weapons and bullets so easily were rare incidents. 'Many leaders connected to this case will be punished for their negligence of duties,' he said. The injured soldier was likely to be tried in a military court and face charges of taking absence without leave from the army and stealing weapons. He said the maximum punishment for stealing arms was the death penalty.