TIRUPATI: In a major "encounter," 20 red-sanders smugglers and coolies were killed in Seshachalam forest area near Srinivasa Mangapuram in Chittoor district today early hours.
The Special Task Force police opened fire at them when they and forest department personnel came face to face with the smugglers and coolies while they were combing the area in a joint operation. According to police, the coolies who were armed with sickles and spears began throwing stones at the police and forest department personnel as soon as they saw them.
The police told them to surrender but when they continued to attack them which led to two policemen sustaining injuries, the police opened fire at them.
The special task force police team which was combing the jungles since last evening, zeroed in on two places in the forest, acting on reliable tip off.
According to reports, nearly 500 coolies, hired by smugglers by notorious a red sanders smuggler belonging to Chittoor district were felling the trees when the police rained bullets on them. The policemen who were injured in stone pelting have been shifted to RUIA hospital in Tirupati for treatment.
The special task force team is still continuing its combing operation in the forest to nab the smugglers who fled the scene. Police alerted all the check-posts at the borders of the district where vehicle checking is going on.
Meanwhile Special Task Force DIG M Kantarao visited the area where encounter took place. The red sanders coolies are suspected to be from Tamil Naidu. In Hyderabad, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu was closeted with available ministers and was discussing the encounter with them. DGP JV Ramudu briefed the chief minister as to how the encounter took place and the circumstances that forced the police to open fire.