A police officer fired a warning shot on Monday in Limassol, after a gang of hooded young men tried to interfere with a graffiti-related arrest.
According to police, patrol officers on Aneksartisias Street in Limassol spotted three young men in the evening, spraying slogans on a retaining wall of a parking lot as well as onto a shed of a nearby business establishment.
At the sight of law enforcement agents, the three males started running away with one of the police officers chasing them on foot and managing to grab one of the suspects.
Police said the officer acted in accordance with protocol, citing he feared for his life as close to a dozen people appeared to be ganging up on him
The apprehended suspect, described as a local 22-year-old male, was detained after being caught red-handed for the offence of malicious damage to property.
But during the arrest, police said about 20 males who had their faces covered approached the arresting officer, with an official report saying he felt threatened and pulled out his gun.
Police said the officer fired a single warning shot in the air, causing the gang to spread out and run away.
Critics on social media accused police of making unnecessary use of a lethal weapon, with some online users suggesting the youths were writing anti-mask slogans.
But police told Knews that the officer acted in accordance with protocol, citing he feared for his life as close to a dozen people appeared to be ganging up on him.
The incident is being handled by Petty Crime investigators.