A Philadelphia police officer fired at two men who tried to run him down with their van yesterday when he sought to question them about an attempted burglary, police said.

It wasn't clear if the officer hit anyone because the van swerved then sped away. The van struck a pole nearby on 11th Street near Huntingdon, but the occupants fled on foot. The officer was uninjured.

The burglary occurred shortly after 11 a.m. when two men tried to break into an apartment on 11th Street near York in North Philadelphia, said Anthony DiLacqua, chief inspector of the Internal Affairs Bureau.

Neighbors called police and, when they arrived, described the suspects. An officer on the lookout for the thugs spotted two men who fit the suspects' description inside a blue van near the scene of the attempted burglary, police said.

"The officer got out of his car, and as he's walking towards the van, the van drives at the officer," DiLacqua said.

"He sees a gun in the hand of the occupant of the vehicle and fires his weapon."

DiLacqua did not say how many times the officer fired or whether it was the driver or the passenger who had a gun.

DiLacqua said that the two men remain at large and that police were searching local hospitals to see if anyone had been admitted with gunshot wounds.

"As with all police [weapon] discharges, the officer will be taken off the street for the preliminary part of this investigation," DiLacqua said.

A concurrent investigation will also be done by the District Attorney's Office, he added. *