Isolated island tribe kills American tourist
Sought to convert tribesmen in ‘prohibited area’
• Primitive tribesmen have killed an American tourist after he illegally ventured on to their remote island home in India.
John Chau, 27, was met with a volley of arrows as he set foot on North Sentinel Island, part of the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean.
Police sources told local media that Chau was a missionary and travelled to the island to try to convert the Sentinelese tribe to Christianity.
But Dependra Pathak, a police officer, disputed this, telling News Minute, a local website, that the American “was on a misplaced adventure in (a) prohibited area to meet uncontacted persons.”
The case has cast a rare spotlight on the Sentinelese tribe, one of the last in the world thought to be untouched by modern civilization.
Chau was killed on Nov. 16 when he paid local fishermen to transport him to the island, according to a police source.
“He was attacked by arrows but he continued walking. The fishermen saw the tribals tying a rope around his neck and dragging his body,” the source said.
“They were scared and fled but returned next morning to find his body on the seashore.”
Indian media reported that the fishermen told a preacher in Port Blair, the main town of the Andamans, about the incident, who then contacted Chau’s family in the U.S.
According to official sources, Chau had a tourist visa to enter the Andaman Islands, where access to some restricted zones is given, and had made several trips to other Andaman Islands before offering money to fishermen to take him to North Sentinel.
Outsiders are banned from going within five kilometres of the tribe’s home to protect their way of life and to safeguard them from 21stcentury diseases.
Tribes such as the Sentinelese, believed to be only 150 in number, shun contact with the outside world and have a record of hostility to anyone who tries to get close.
In 2006, two fishermen who moored their boat to sleep were killed when it broke loose and drifted on to North Sentinel. Their bodies were never recovered.
The legal repercussions of Chau’s killing are unclear. However, police in the island chain in the Bay of Bengal have launched a murder investigation.
Tribesmen with bows are seen on India’s North Sentinel island, a remote area untouched by modern civilization and off-limits to outside visitors.