A gunman shot dead six members of a Roma family and another woman in the Slovak capital Bratislava on Monday before killing himself, government officials said.

Fourteen more people were wounded in a gun battle with police following the murders, including one officer shot in the head.

The motive of the gunman, who was a Slovak aged about 50, and his identity were still being investigated, Police Chief Jaroslav Spisiak said.

He was alone. He fired at everything that moved during his escape bid, the policemen surrounded him ... they made it impossible for him to escape, Spisiak told reporters near the apartment block where the shooting happened.

Interior Minister Daniel Lipsic said six of the victims were members of the mostly poor Roma minority whose integration into society has been a long-running issue in Slovakia.

It was a family of Roma origin. We do not know the motive yet, I do not want to speculate if it was or was not a racist motive, he told a news conference.

There have been disputes and minor clashes in Slovakia between Roma and the majority population, especially in smaller towns, but no racist multiple murders. There are about 430,000 Roma among Slovakia's population of 5.4 million.

In neighbouring Hungary, several Roma have been killed in recent years in what appeared to be racially-motivated attacks.

The Devinska Nova Ves district of Bratislava, where the shooting took place, was sealed off by police after the incident, a Reuters reporter on the scene said.

Spisiak said the man entered an apartment armed with a submachinegun with eight magazines and two handguns, and shot dead four women and a man inside.

He killed another relative in the doorway and another woman standing on a balcony nearby before police cornered him, and then killed himself.

Renata Vandariakova, head doctor of the Bratislava University Hospital, said the hospital was treating nine of the wounded, one of whom was in critical condition.

She said others among the wounded had been shot in the chest and abdomen.

Slovakia, a member of the European Union, experienced several shooting incidents involving criminal gangs in the 1990s but has had no large-scale shootings in recent years.

The shooting spree was the most lethal in Europe since a gunman opened fire on people in the rural English county of Cumbria in June, killing 12.

(Additional reporting by Roman Gazdik, writing by Jan Lopatka; editing by Andrew Dobbie)