Andaman and Nicobar Police recce North Sentinel island, sight tribals

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Avoid confrontation with the Sentinelese.

A police team took a boat just off North Sentinel island on Saturday and spotted men from the Sentinelese tribe on the beach where American missionary John Allen Chau was last seen, Andaman & Nicobar Islands’ police chief Dependra Pathak told AFP.

Using binoculars, officers in a police boat about 400 metres from the shore, saw men armed with bows and arrows.

Boat withdrew

“They stared at us and we were looking at them,” said Mr. Pathak. The boat withdrew to avoid any chance of a confrontation.

Police are taking painstaking efforts to avoid any disruption to the Sentinelese, a pre-neolithic tribe, as they seek Chau’s body. The island is off-limits to outsiders.The death of the 27-year-old on November 17 has cast a new spotlight on efforts to protect one of the world’s last “uncontacted” tribes, whose language and customs remain a mystery to outsiders.

Fishermen who took Chau to North Sentinel said they saw the tribe burying the body on the beach.

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 Chau to North Sentinel, have been arrested. The fishermen accompanied the police teams to the island to help efforts to pinpoint where Chau was killed.

The fishermen have accompanied the police teams to the island to help efforts to pinpoint where Chau was killed

Expert advice

Anthropologists and tribal welfare experts who have had the previous rare contacts with the Sentinelese have been heavily involved with the inquiry.

“Their advice will be important,” said Mr. Pathak. “We are taking the advice of the people in the field to advance this case.

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