(CNN) - An American Christian believed to have been a missionary appears to have been killed by tribespeople on a remote island hundreds of miles off the coast of India, according to officials.
Dependra Pathak, director general of police of the Andaman and Nicobar islands, told CNN that 27-year-old John Allen Chau went to India on a tourist visa but visited the Andaman and Nicobar islands in October with the express purpose of proselytizing.
"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.
On Chau’s Instagram page, his relatives described who they say he was, and said they forgave those who took his life.
"To others he was a Christian missionary, a wilderness EMT, an international soccer coach, and a mountaineer. He loved God, life, helping those in need, and had nothing but love for the Sentinelese people." The family said it forgives those who took Chau's life.
North Sentinel Island is inhabited by the Sentinelese.
Just over a dozen people are officially thought to live on the remote island.
The island is a protected area, and people are not allowed to go within 5 nautical miles of it, after previous incidents of aggressive behavior toward outsiders were observed.
Survival International, a nongovernmental group that says it is dedicated to tribal peoples' rights, said "The Sentinelese have shown again and again that they want to be left alone, and their wishes should be respected."
Copyright 2018 CNN. All rights reserved.