South African soldiers killed three poachers in the Houtbosrand area in the Kruger National Park (KNP) on Wednesday, May 18 2011.
They were with rangers of the KNP on a joint patrol of the area north of the Olifants River in the park when they came in to contact with the suspects.
A shoot-out ensued in which the suspects were wounded and later died. The operational team recovered an AK47 rifle, a 458 hunting rifle, and axes at the scene according to Wanda Mkutshulwa, SANParks, head of communications.
In March this year the South African Defence Force deployed 165 troops to patrol the international border on Krugerís eastern border, with specific emphasis being placed on the recent surge in rhino poaching in South Africa and in the KNP in particular.
According to SANParks chief executive David Mabunda in a statement last month, 71 rhinos have been killed at SANParks reserves since the beginning of this year, while 333 rhino deaths were recorded last year.
Since the beginning of January 2011, 173 rhinos have been poached throughout the country, 122 suspects arrested and 20 suspects killed.