American believed to be killed by bow and arrow on visit to Indian island forbidden for travel

An American is thought to have been killed by indigenous people using a bow and arrow on an island hundreds of miles off the coast of India that was forbidden for travel, according to multiple reports.

John Allen Chau, a 26-year-old Christian missionary, went to Andaman and Nicobar islands in October with the intent of proselytizing their natives, Dependra Pathak, director general of police for the islands, told CNN.

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"We refuse to call him a tourist. Yes, he came on a tourist visa but he came with a specific purpose to preach on a prohibited island," Pathak said.

North Sentinel Island, where Chau is believed to have been killed, is inhabited by the Sentinelese people, who are protected under Indian law. There are believed to be about a dozen people officially living on the island, according to CNN.

Chau reportedly hired seven locals to help him reach the island, all of whom have been arrested for violating rules protecting aboriginal tribes.

"According to the fishermen, they used a wooden boat fitted with motors to travel to the island on Nov. 15," Pathak said. 

The fishermen said the Sentinelese shot arrows at Chau, causing him to retreat. He apparently tried to reach the island several more times over the next two days, offering gifts such as a small soccer ball, fishing line and scissors. 

The police haven't independently verified if he is indeed dead, but the fishermen told them that they saw the locals dragging him across the beach on Nov. 17.

"We are aware of reports concerning a U.S. citizen in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands," a State Department spokesperson told The Hill on Wednesday. "The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State. When a U.S. citizen is missing, we work closely with local authorities as they carry out their search efforts."

All Nations, a Christian missions organization, said in a statement Wednesday that representatives are working with U.S. and overseas authorities to determine further details of Chau's death.

“We have been in contact with John’s family and ask all to join us in praying for his family and friends during this time," Mary Ho, International Executive Leader of All Nations, wrote in a statement. "We have been in contact with the U.S. State Department and continue to cooperate fully with all international, national and regional officials.”

Chau had traveled as a missionary to Iraq, Kurdistan and South Africa, according to the organization. All Nations said in a statement that the 26-year-old joined the group in 2017.

Updated at 6:45 p.m.