News World News

Thursday 19 September 2019

American killed by isolated tribe on Indian island

Visits to North Sentinel Island are heavily restricted by the Indian government.

North Sentinel Island in India’s southeastern Andaman and Nicobar Islands (AP Photo/Gautam Singh, File)
North Sentinel Island in India’s southeastern Andaman and Nicobar Islands (AP Photo/Gautam Singh, File)

By Ashok Sharma, Associated Press

An American adventurer has been killed by an isolated Indian island tribe known to shoot at outsiders with bows and arrows.

Dependra Pathak, director-general of police on India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands, said seven fishermen have been arrested for helping the American visit North Sentinel Island, where the killing occurred.

Visits to the island are heavily restricted by the government.

The Sentinelese people on the small forested island are known to resist contacts with outsiders, often attacking anyone who comes near.

The American has been identified as John Allen Chau, who earlier described himself at a hotel as 26 years old and from Alabama.

He was apparently killed by arrows, but the cause of death cannot be confirmed until his body is recovered.

It was a case of misdirected adventure Dependra Pathak, Andaman and Nicobar Islands police chief

Police have approached anthropologists with contacts on the island in an effort to visit and recover the body.

Police said Mr Chau arrived in the region on October 16 and stayed in a hotel while he prepared to visit the prohibited island.

He had earlier visited the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in 2015 and 2016. North Sentinel is in the Andaman Islands at the intersection of the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea.

Mr Chau organised his visit to the island through a friend who hired seven fishermen for 325 US dollars (£254) to take him there on a boat, which also towed his kayak.

Mr Chau went ashore in his kayak on November 15 and sent the boat with the fishermen out to sea to avoid detection, police said.

He interacted with some of the tribespeople, giving them gifts he had prepared such as a football and fish. But the tribespeople became angry and shot an arrow at him which apparently hit a book he was carrying.

The American’s kayak became damaged, so he swam to the fishermen’s boat, which was waiting at a prearranged location.

There he spent the night and wrote out his experiences on pages of paper which he gave to the fishermen, police said. He set out again to meet the tribespeople on November 16.

But on the morning of the following day, the waiting fishermen saw from a distance his body being dragged by tribesmen.

They left for Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where they informed Mr Chau’s friend, who notified his family.

His family got in touch with Indian police and US consular officials.

“It was a case of misdirected adventure,” Mr Pathak said.

Police arrested the seven fishermen and charged them with endangering the life of the American by taking him to a prohibited area.

PA Media

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News