At least 20 suspected sandalwood smugglers have been shot dead by Indian police in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
Police in India’s Andhra Pradesh state say they have killed at least 20 suspected sandalwood smugglers.
The incident happened when the smugglers attacked police and forestry officials in forests near the holy Hindu town of Tirupati, police said.
Most of the smugglers were from neighbouring Tamil Nadu state.
Sandalwood smuggling is rampant in southern India with a tonne selling for up to $80,000 (£53,000) on the international black market.
Senior police official M Kantha Rao told the AFP news agency that policemen challenged a group of more than 100 smugglers who were cutting down trees in the remote forests near Tirupati early on Tuesday.
“Our police party warned them to hand over the logs. They were accompanied by forest officials as well. But the smugglers refused to hand over the logs,” he said.
A forestry official said the woodcutters attacked the police with axes, sticks and stones in two separate areas of the state.
Police said 20 bodies had been recovered in the Seshachalam forest. Eight smugglers were injured.
In 2004, police in Tamil Nadu shot dead one of India’s most notorious sandalwood smugglers, known as Veerappan.