An enraged, machete-wielding woman was shot by police in North Philadelphia last night after a bizarre confrontation over her children.

Police responded to a 911 call about children being left home alone on Russell Street near Marshall about 5 p.m. and found three kids - ages 5 to 10 - inside a ramshackle home that reeked of feces, said Internal Affairs Chief Inspector William Colarulo.

Officials from the Department of Human Services and the police Special Victims Unit decided to remove the children from the home.

The mother showed up and quickly got into a heated confrontation with police, Colarulo said. A Spanish-speaking female police officer arrived and attempted to reason with the woman.

But the mother retreated upstairs and returned brandishing a 2-foot-long machete, threatening to kill her children and the police, and dashed toward the female officer with the machete, police said.

The officer fired her weapon and struck the woman once in the side, Colarulo said.

The mother, whom police did not identify, was listed in critical condition at Temple University Hospital. *