A group of four women assaulted a South Auckland shop keeper before making off with a cache of cigarettes this afternoon.

Officers were called to Manurewa Food Market on Great South Rd, Manurewa, shortly before 2pm, a police spokeswoman said.

The women requested tampons before turning on a shop keeper and striking them in the face.

They stole an unknown quantity of cigarettes before staff managed to activate a security alarm.

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Police and ambulance staff arrived soon after the offenders fled.

Officers are examining the scene and searching for the offenders.