More than a week of protests have followed the police shooting of 20 suspected sandalwood smugglers in the forests of the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

While police have said they fired on men who were attacking them "with axes and other sharp-edged weapons" last week, at least two witnesses have told the National Human Rights Commission that the men were pulled off a bus and shot while in custody.

On Wednesday the southern city of Pondicherry was shut down to protest the killings. Most shops were shut and private buses stayed off the roads as police patrolled the streets.

The rights commission has asked the local government to start an inquiry into the killings.