Chittoor, Apr 7: Two out of the 20 killed in an encounter today were international red wood smugglers, an officer with the Red Sanders Anti Smuggling Task Force informed. Twenty red sandalwood smugglers were killed in an encounter with the RSASTF at 5 am this morning.
RSATF DIG informed Oneindia over phone that 20 smugglers had been killed and the hunt was on for more. He also informed that 11 were killed at Srinivasa Mangapuram while nine were shot down in Srivarimettu.
RSASTF officials confirmed that the action was a result of provocation. The officer informed that while they were combing the Seshachalam forest area in Chittoor for red smuggling activities, a gang of 30 men came forward and tried to attack them.
The smugglers hurled sickles and axes at them. This resulted in a gun battle in which 20 smugglers were killed. Prior to the encounter, it was found that the smugglers were ferrying out red sandalwood out of the forest zone. The RSASTF tried to stop them, but the smugglers tried to attack them.
Majority from Tamil Nadu:
Preliminary investigations would show that majority of the 80 odd smugglers who were in the forest hailed from Tamil Nadu. Even in the encounter most of those who were killed hailed from Tamil Nadu. Two were international smugglers, sources informed.
This was a major operation that had been launched by the red wood smugglers who normally operate between Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. A team of at least 80 smugglers had come into the forest area late last night and were undertaking an operation.
The RSATF acting on a tip off began combing the area in the early hours of Tuesday. However, when the smugglers were caught in the act, there was an encounter that took place in which 20 were killed.
Several managed to flee from the area while 8 smugglers were seriously injured sources also informed.