Local law enforcement officials on Wednesday said an American self-proclaimed explorer and Christian missionary has been killed and buried by a tribe of hunter-gatherers on a distant island in the Indian Ocean where he went to preach.
The Missionary, John Allen Chau, 26, was murdered on North Sentinel Island, home to the last pre-Neolithic tribe in the world and normally out of bounds to visitors.
Dependra Pathak, the director general of police in Andaman and Nicobar said “A murder case has been registered against unknown persons,” Pathak said, adding that the local fishermen suspected of illegally ferrying Chau to the 60-square-km (23-square-mile) island had been arrested on separate charges.
According to multiple media accounts, Chau was slain by members of the Sentinelese community with bows and arrows.
Chau’s social media posts shows him as an adventurer and explorer. Replying a travel blog interrogation about what was on the top of his adventure list, Chau said: “Going back to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in India.”
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From his social media posts, Chau seem to have visited India a lot of times in the last few years, exploring and preaching in many parts of southern India.
Chau’s family members in a post on his Instagram page “We recently learned from an unconfirmed report that John Allen Chau was reported killed in India while reaching out to members of the Sentinelese Tribe in the Andaman Islands,”
The family described him as a “beloved son, brother and uncle” as well as a Christian missionary, wilderness emergency medical technician, soccer coach and mountaineer.
“He loved God, life, helping those in need and had nothing but love for the Sentinelese people,” the family said. “We forgive those reportedly responsible for his death. We also ask for the release of those friends he had in the Andaman Islands.”
The family asked that local contacts not be prosecuted in the case.
The Police in a statement said that they had set in motion an investigation into Chau’s death after being contacted by the U.S. consulate in the southern Indian city of Chennai.
The consulate spokeswoman via email said “We are aware of reports concerning a U.S. citizen in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands,” but failed to provide further details.
Pathak said a Coast Guard vessel with police and experts on the tribe had gone to patrol the island and draw a plan to recover Chau’s body. North Sentinel Island is about 50 km (31 miles) west of Port Blair, the capital of the island cluster.
Chau made visited the island two or three times by canoe from Nov. 15, thereby encountering the tribe but returned to his boat, Pathak said. He told the fishermen on Nov. 16 he would not come back from the island and told them to return home and transfer some handwritten notes he had made to a friend.
The police chief said the next morning they saw his body dragged across a beach and buried in the sand, adding that “This was a misplaced adventure in a highly protected area.”
A source with access to Chau’s notes disclosed that Chau had taken scissors, safety pins and a football as gifts to the tribe.
In Chaus’s notes, the source said, he wrote that some members of the tribe were good to him while others were very hostile.
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The source quoted Chau as saying “I have been so nice to them. Why are they so angry and so aggressive?”
The source, who plead anonimity, said Chau wrote that he was “doing this to establish the kingdom of Jesus on the island…Do not blame the natives if I am killed.”