American Christian missionary killed by flurry of arrows shot by an indigenous tribe on remote Indian island

Protected tribesmen living on a remote Indian island launched a flurry of arrows and killed an American missionary who had reportedly arrived there to convert them to Christianity


                            American Christian missionary killed by flurry of arrows shot by an indigenous tribe on remote Indian island

Local fishermen were paid by 27-year-old John Allen Chau to help him get to North Sentinel Island, which is known to be one of the most isolated regions in India's Andaman islands. Chau allegedly hitched a boat ride with fishermen and ventured alone to North Sentinel Island in a canoe. According to official sources, no sooner did the missionary set foot on the island, where the Sentinelese tribe lives completely cut off from the outside world, than he found himself facing a deadly shower of arrows, Daily Mail reports.

However, the Sentinelese will not be held accountable for Chau's murder. In a bid to protect their indigenous way of life and shield them from diseases, any contact with the tribe or with the several others that reside on the islands is against the law.

Law enforcement authorities, however, have arrested seven persons and registered a case of murder against them. While their identities have not been released, they are said to be the fishermen who took Chau to the forbidden island.

 27-year-old Christian missionary John Allen Chau was killed by the Sentinelese tribe in North Sentinel Island, Andaman islands. (International Christian Concern)
 27-year-old Christian missionary John Allen Chau was killed by the Sentinelese tribe in North Sentinel Island, Andaman islands. (International Christian Concern)

Chau had expressed a strong desire to meet the Sentinelese, according to one police source, who also said that he had made previous visits to the islands. According to the International Christian Concern, Chau was a Christian missionary who wanted to interact with members of the Sentinelese tribe. While he had made several trips to the islands recently, this was the first time he made it to the remote stretch after paying off local fishermen.

The police official said that Chau reached the vicinity of the island on November 16 after hiring a fishing dinghy and being helped by the fishermen. He added that the missionary's body has not yet been retrieved. It was last spotted by fishermen on their return the day after the incident. Deepak Yadav, a police officer in the Andaman islands, said in a statement late Tuesday that authorities have launched an investigation into the case.

The Sentinelese stand guard on an island beach. (Courtesy: Christian Caron for Survival International - Representational purposes only)
The Sentinelese stand guard on an island beach. (Courtesy: Christian Caron for Survival International - Representational purposes only)

"He tried to reach the Sentinel island on November 14 but could not make it," a police source told. "Two days later he went well prepared."

The source added: "He left the dingy midway and took a canoe all by himself to the island. He was attacked by arrows but he continued walking. The fishermen saw the tribals tying a rope around his neck and dragging his body. They were scared and fled but returned next morning to find his body on the seashore."

In the wake of the 2004 tsunami, this member of the Sentinelese tribe was photographed firing arrows at a helicopter. (Indian Coastguard/Survival International - Representational purposes only)
In the wake of the 2004 tsunami, this member of the Sentinelese tribe was photographed firing arrows at a helicopter. (Indian Coastguard/Survival International - Representational purposes only)

A spokeswoman for the United States consulate in India's southern city of Chennai wrote in an email: "We are aware of reports concerning a US citizen in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. When a U.S. citizen is missing, we work closely with local authorities as they carry out their search efforts." However, further details were denied over privacy concerns, the Daily Mail report added.