Chennai, Oct. 18 (PTI): Sandalwood smuggler Veerappan and three of his associates were killed tonight, a top police official said.
Veerappan and his associates were killed by a team of the Special Task Force of Tamil Nadu police at Papparapatti village in Dharmapuri district of the state, the official said.
Dharmapuri, a known hunting ground of Veerappan and his gang, is around 300 km from Chennai.
Sources at the crime branch headquarters in Chennai said the bandit was killed in an encounter in a dense forest amid heavy rain near Tamil Nadu's border with Karnataka.
Initial reports said the encounter occurred around 10.45 pm on Monday.
Karnataka police, however, refused to confirm the death of Veerappan, one of the most wanted fugitives in the country.
The 52-year-old Veerappan was in the news last when he kidnapped and killed former Karnataka minister H. Nagappa in 2002. Two years before that, the bandit had abducted Kannada actor Rajkumar, who was later released.