Friday 14 December 2018

Reclusive tribe kills US tourist who bribed his way on to island

John Chau was surrounded and killed by tribal fighters, who fiercely defend their paradise in India’s Andaman Islands, police said (stock picture)
John Chau was surrounded and killed by tribal fighters, who fiercely defend their paradise in India’s Andaman Islands, police said (stock picture)

Rachael Alexander

Tribespeople armed with bows and arrows have killed an American tourist who illegally ventured to their island home, where contact with indigenous people is banned to protect their way of life.

John Chau was surrounded and killed by tribal fighters, who fiercely defend their paradise in India's Andaman Islands, police said.

Mr Chau (27) paid local fishermen to take him to North Sentinel Island which is out of bounds even to the Indian navy in a bid to protect its reclusive inhabitants.

Mr Chau was hit by a hail of arrows as soon as he set foot on the island, an official source told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"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 sea shore."

Indian police said a murder case had been registered against "unknown tribesmen" and seven people arrested in connection with the death.

"The investigation in this matter is on," senior police officer Deepak Yadav said.

Indian media said the fishermen told a preacher in the main town, Port Blair, about the incident and the preacher contacted Mr Chau's family in the United States.

The case has cast a rare spotlight on the indigenous people, who live shielded from the outside world to safeguard them from 21st century diseases.

Mr Chau had a tourist visa to enter the Andamans, where access to some restricted zones is given, the official sources said. But it is illegal to go within 5km of North Sentinel island.

Mr Chau had made several trips to other Andaman islands before offering money to fishermen to take him to North Sentinel, sources said. Tribes such as the Sentinelese, believed to number about 150 people, shun all contact with the world and have a record of hostility to anyone who gets close.

© Daily Telegraph London

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