Security forces kill 20 smugglers in India
A gun battle between security forces and alleged sandalwood smugglers has left at least 20 smugglers dead in India’s southern state of Andhra Pradesh, police say.
Deputy Inspector General M. Kantha Rao said clashes erupted in a remote forest in the early hours of Tuesday, when a group of over 100 sandalwood smugglers attacked the police officers “with axes and other sharp-edged weapons, forcing the police to open fire.”
“The teams fired in self-defense. Nine smugglers died at Eetagunta and 11 at Vacchinodu Banda. The search is on for the smugglers who… escaped from the forest after the incident,” Rao added.
Two policemen were also wounded in the gun battle.
Reports say the incident was the biggest-ever police encounter involving sandalwood smugglers in Andhra Pradesh.
Sandalwood smuggling is rampant in southern India. Smugglers sell one ton of the product for up to USD 80,000 on the black market thanks to high demands in countries such as China and Japan.