Two forest department personnel were killed and several others were injured as a large gang of smugglers attacked them in the Seshachalam forest near Tirupati in Chittoor district yesterday, police said.
The gang members were today picked up from various railway stations in the two districts as they were trying to flee to Tamil Nadu, police said.
Expressing shock over the attack, Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy had yesterday directed senior officials to bring the culprits to the book quickly. He also sought a report on the attack.
Red sanders (also called red sandalwood) trees are found in Chittoor district and neighbouring regions and their wood is used for making aphrodisiacs and furniture. It commands a high price in the international market.
Smuggling is rampant in the Chittoor district forests and the forest department employees have complained in the past that they lack arms and other equipment.