India: Police shoot 20 suspected sandalwood smugglers dead

Indian police in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh shot and killed 20 suspected sandalwood smugglers, Tuesday. Opposition politicians and activists have, however, refuted the state's claims - insisting that those killed were unarmed labourers. An investigation has been officially requested. The Andhra Pradesh chief of police reports that the shootings took place after over 100 suspected smugglers started throwing stones at the police. They are alleged to have been armed with sickles, axes and other tools that could prove lethal. The violence broke into two distinct spells. Nine suspected smugglers were killed in the Chitoor district, the other eleven were shot half a mile away (0.8 km). The state of Andhra Pradesh is renowned for its red sandlewood, a commodity that the felling, sale and transport of which is illegal in India. The wood is sought after throughout Asia.