US tourist killed by arrow-shooting Indian tribe in remote North Sentinel Island

A Sentinel tribal man aims with his bow and arrow at an Indian Coast Guard helicopter as it flies over the island to survey damage from the 2004 tsunami. PHOTO: REUTERS

PORT BLAIR, INDIA (AFP) - An American tourist was killed by arrows shot by protective tribesmen living in one of the world's most isolated regions tucked in India's Andaman islands, police said on Wednesday (Nov 21).

Mr John Chau, 27, had taken a boat ride with local fishermen before venturing alone in a canoe to the remote North Sentinel Island where the indigenous people live cut off completely from the outside world.

As soon as he set foot on the island, Mr Chau found himself facing a flurry of arrows, official sources told AFP.

Contact with several tribes on the islands, set deep in the Indian Ocean, is illegal, in a bid to protect their indigenous way of life and shield them from diseases.

Police have registered a case of murder and seven accused persons have been arrested.

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

Mr Chau had made several trips to the Andaman islands recently before finally managing to make it to the remote stretch by offering money to local fishermen.

"He tried to reach the Sentinel Island on Nov 14 but could not make it. Two days later, he went well prepared. He left the dingy midway and took a canoe all by himself to the island," sources said.

"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 sources said.

"They were scared and fled but returned next morning to find his body on the seashore."

The Andamans are also home to the 400-strong Jarawa tribe whom activists say are at threat from outsiders, who often bribe local authorities to spend a day out with them.

But tribes such as the Sentinelese shun all contact with the outside world and are known to be hostile to any encroachers.

North Sentinel Island is out of bounds even to the Indian navy in a bid to protect its reclusive inhabitants, who number only about 150.

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