Bow-wielding tribesmen scare off police searching for body of American missionary

Posted by News Express | 26 November 2018 | 1,117 times

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Indian police abandoned an attempt to recover the remains of the American missionary killed by Andaman Islanders on Sunday after they were faced down by tribesmen armed with bows and arrows.

A marine unit had a long-distance standoff with the natives as their boat neared North Sentinel Island on Saturday, as they tried to find the body of John Allen Chau.

Officers spotted the islanders around 400 metres from the shore and saw the men were armed and seemingly ready to fight.

"They stared at us and we were looking at them," said Director General of Police Dependra Pathak.

The boat withdrew to avoid any confrontation.

The police are taking great efforts to avoid any direct contact with the Sentinelese, a pre-neolithic group whose island is barred to visitors.

The death of Chau last week has highlighted the problems with any outsiders interacting with one of the world's last uncontacted tribes, whose language and customs are largely inscrutable.

The fishermen who took Chau to North Sentinel, one of the Andaman and Nicobar islands in the Bay of Bengal, said they saw the tribe burying the body on the beach.

The Sentinelese have been known attack anyone who goes to the island, seeing them as a threat - two fishermen who strayed onto the island were killed in 2006.

 One week after their deaths, the bodies of the two Indian fishermen were hooked on bamboo stakes facing out to sea. "It was a kind of scarecrow," Mr Pathak said.

"We are studying the 2006 case. We are asking anthropologists what they do when they kill an outsider," the police chief told the AFP news agency. "We are trying to understand the group psychology."

Though Chau's death is officially a murder case, anthropologists say it may be impossible to retrieve the American's body and that no charges will be made against the protected tribe.

Seven people, including six fishermen who were involved in ferrying Mr Chau to North Sentinel, have been arrested.

Meanwhile, Chau’s family have said they forgive the tribe for their actions and are not pushing for his remains to be returned to the US. (The Telegraph)

A Sentinelese man takes aim with a bow and arrow at an Indian Coast Guard helicopter in the wake of the 2004 tsunami Credit:  HANDOUT/AFP

Source: News Express

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