"Combing is going on in Chittoor and Kadapa districts to nab the smugglers who are on the run after Tuesday's exchange of fire," a senior police officer said.

20 people were gunned down on Tuesday in a police operation said to be against red sanders smugglers that came under severe attack from the government and political parties in neighbouring Tamil Nadu, which claimed that many victims were labourers from their state.

Police had claimed that the task force and forest personnel, during a joint combing operation, spotted over 200 red sanders woodcutters involved in felling trees and they were asked to surrender.

However, they attacked the police and forest personnel, injuring six policemen. In retaliation, when police fired in "self-defence", 20 of the smugglers were killed and many others fled the scene, police had earlier explained.

Inspector General of Police (South Zone) V Venugopal Krishna told reporters that the postmortem of the killed woodcutters and smugglers was on at a hospital in Tirupati and the process to identify them was underway.

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