- American missionary and tourist John Allen Chau was killed by an isolated tribe on the remote North Sentinel Island last week, Indian police said.
- Members of the Sentinelese tribe shot him with arrows and buried him on the beach, according to witnesses.
- Because the island is so remote, even police don’t go there. They are now having trouble recovering his body.
- Chau wrote in a last note to his family that he wanted to “declare Jesus to these people,” adding: “God, I don’t want to die.”
Police in India are struggling to recover the body of an American missionary and tourist who was killed by an isolated tribe on a remote island last week.
John Allen Chau, a Christian missionary from Washington state, was killed after members of the Sentinelese tribe apparently shot him with arrows and buried him on the beach in their native North Sentinel Island, Indian police said. He was 26.
The island, which is located in the Andaman Sea off southeast Asia, is off-limits to visitors. The indigenous Sentinelese tribe has virtually no contact with the world, speaks its own language, and lives without modern technology.
Because the island is so isolated, even authorities on India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands – where North Sentinel island is located – don’t go there. Police now face a “difficult proposition” trying to recover Chau’s body.
Officers are now consulting anthropologists, tribal welfare experts and scholars to figure out a way to recover Chau’s body, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
Dependera Pathak, director-general of police on India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands, said, according to the news agency: “We have to see what is possible, taking utmost care of the sensitivity of the group and the legal requirements.”
Why Chau wanted to visit the island is not entirely clear. But according to the Washington Post, he wrote in a last note to his family that said: “You guys might think I’m crazy in all of this but I think it’s worthwhile to declare Jesus to these people… God, I don’t want to die.”
Chau paid a group of fishermen $US325 to take him near North Sentinel on November 15, and used a kayak to paddle to shore, the Associated Press reported. He brought to the islanders gifts such as a football and fish, AP said.
On his first day on the island, Chau interacted with some tribesmen until they grew angry and shot an arrow at him. It pierced his waterproof Bible, the Washington Post reported. Chau then returned to the boat.
He returned the next day. It’s not clear what happened next, but the fishermen who transported Chau to the island described seeing tribesmen drag Chau’s body along the beach and bury it, the AP reported.
Seven people – including the fishermen, a tourist guide, and one of Chau’s friends – have been arrested for helping Chau, police said.
Chau’s family wrote in an Instagram statement on Wednesday: “We forgive those reportedly responsible for his death. We also ask for the release of those friends he had in the Andaman Islands. He ventured out on his own free will and his local contacts need not be persecuted for his own actions.”
Pathak said police can’t confirm Chau’s cause of death until his body is recovered.