US tourist killed on remote Indian island barred to visitors

PORT BLAIR - An American visitor to one of the islands in India's remote Andaman and Nicobar chain has been killed by a community of hunter-gatherers who live there isolated from the outside world, two police officials said on Wednesday.

The North Sentinel Island, off-bounds to visitors, is home to the Sentinelese, who killed the American, identified as John Allen Chau, after he was illegally ferried there by fishermen, the officials added.

"A murder case has been registered," one of the officials told Reuters. Both officials sought anonymity as they are not authorised to speak to the media.

Police have launched an investigation, Deepak Yadav, a police official in the island chain in the Bay of Bengal, said in a statement late on Tuesday.

"We are aware of reports concerning a US citizen in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands," a spokeswoman for the United States consulate in India's southern city of Chennai said in an email.

"When a US citizen is missing, we work closely with local authorities as they carry out their search efforts," she added, but declined to provide further details over privacy concerns.

Reuters was not immediately able to trace contact details for a family member or representative of Chau.

One of the police sources said Chau, who had made previous visits to the islands, had a strong desire to meet the Sentinelese.

Chau hired a fishing dinghy and, aided by the fishermen, reached the vicinity of the island on Nov. 16, before transferring to a canoe, the official said.

His body, spotted the following day by the fishermen on their return, has not yet been retrieved, the official added, although the fishermen who took him there have been arrested.