Sandalwood smuggler killed as K’taka forest officials open fire

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A sandalwood smuggler was killed after Karnataka forest officials opened fire on a gang who tried to attack their team in a forest in Tumkuru district, official said on Sunday.

The incident was reported from Kenkere forest in Huliyurudurga forest range in Kunigal taluk as Forest Department officials surrounded the three smugglers and asked them to surrender.

“The three smugglers attacked the five member Forest Department team with machetes and axes… as result of this, (forest official) Mahesh Gowda opened fire in the air to warn these attackers, however, the smugglers tried to attack him… as a result, Gowda opened fire at them, leaving one person dead on the spot while two others fled from the scene,” the official said.

The members of the five member team were injured in this attack and are receiving treatment in a government hospital.

According to the forest officials, the deceased is yet to be identified as his two accomplices had fled.

The official said that forest guard Shekharo heard the noise of tree cutting on Friday night and raised alarm and then the sound stopped for a while. However, the gang resumed tree cutting on Saturday morning and immediately the guard alerted Gowda, who formed a special team to nab these smugglers.

The official added that the spot where the incident is in such dense forest that no vehicle can reach there and it can be reached only by trekking at least two kms. “The 350 acre dense forest is reserved for sandalwood plantation and often smugglers come in small teams, cut trees and carry the wood on their head for selling it in black market,” the official said.

Tumkuru Deputy Commissioner Y.S. Patil, Superintendent of Police R.K. Shahpurwad and DCF Ramesh visited the spot.

Both the police and Forest Department are continuing with their investigations into this case.

–IANS

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