HYDERABAD: An encounter with police killed at least 20 sandalwood smugglers in Seshachalam forest near Tirupati in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday, reports said.

The fire exchange between the police and smugglers is still under way. 

According to the latest reports, none of the forest officials and policemen was injured in the encounter, an operation jointly initiated by police and forest officials.

The encounter began as the Red Sanders Anti-Smuggling Task Force (RSASTF) and forest officials spotted the reported smugglers inside the forest vicinity.

Approximately 100 red sandalwood smugglers were caught by the joint team, inform the officials from the Andhra Pradesh police. They added that the smugglers attacked the RSASTF and forest officials with stones and axes after which the security agencies opened fire killing at least 20 smugglers.

According to a police official, two teams both of which comprised of men from the forest department and TSASTF were sent to the jungles to perform the operation.