Nov. 21 (UPI)–A Christian missionary from the United States was killed by an isolated tribe in the Andaman islands off the coast of India, authorities said Wednesday.
John Allen Chau had hired a fishing crew on one of the islands, where he was performing missionary work. Officials said he ignored multiple warnings that the Sentinelese endangered tribe there resists outsiders.
The 27-year-old from Alabama had hoped to convert the tribe to Christianity, The New York Times reported.
Estimates say the Sentinelese, who are totally cut off from civilization, number only between 50 and 150.
Indian authorities say Chau was shot with arrows by the tribesmen as he reached shore, and his body is still on the island. The hired fishermen, who were arrested, said they saw tribesmen dragging his body on the beach.
Authorities are trying to recover the body, but it’s unclear exactly where it is. The islands are off limits because the dozens of inhabitants there are not resistant to diseases, officials said.
Andaman Police Chief Dependra Pathak called Chau’s visit a “misplaced adventure,” and said the American “certainly knew it was off limits.” The fishermen left at night so they wouldn’t be detected by authorities but Chau came ashore at dawn.
Seven people have been arrested for helping the Christian missionary reach the island after the US Consulate filed an FIR in Chennai.
Police say Chau, from Alabama, left behind a note saying God had given him the strength to go to the most forbidden places on Earth. The Andaman and Nicobar island chains have more than 500 islands.
Stephen Corry, director of tribal protection group Survival International, said being alone is very important to the Sentinelese and the Indian government must protect them from “invaders.”
“This tragedy should never have been allowed to happen,” Corry said.
Two Indian fisherman fishing illegally off North Sentinel Island were also killed by the tribe in 2006.
The AFP news agency quoted a source as saying that Chau had tried and failed to reach the island on 14 November. But then he tried again two days later.
“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,” the report added.
Chau’s body was spotted on 20 November. According to the Hindustan Times, his remains have yet to be recovered.