Three masked men held up a Palmerston North petrol station this morning, making off with cash and cigarettes.

About 4.15am, the three entered Mobil on Pioneer Highway and confronted the lone station attendant, police say.

The bandits stole cash and cigarettes, although it's not yet known how much they got away with.

"The offenders were all wearing dark clothing and their faces were covered," a police statement says.

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One held a weapon.

After the holdup the three ran from the station to a vehicle in a nearby car park. They then headed towards the suburb of Awapuni.

Police are appealing for witnesses in the area from about 4am.

Anyone with information can call Palmerston North police on 06 351 3600 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.