The Sentinelese, thought to number between 50 and 200, have rebuffed all contact with the modern world, firing a shower of arrows at anyone who comes within range. They are believed to be the last pre-Neolithic tribe in the world to remain isolated and appear to have survived the 2004 Asian tsunami.
The two men killed, Sunder Raj, 48, and Pandit Tiwari, 52, were fishing illegally for mud crabs off North Sentinel Island, a speck of land in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands archipelago.
After the fishermen’s families raised the alarm, the Indian coastguard tried to recover the bodies using a helicopter but was met by the customary hail of arrows. Photographs shot from the helicopter show the near-naked tribesmen rushing to fire. But the downdraught from its rotors exposed the two fisherman buried in shallow graves and not roasted and eaten, as local rumour suggested.
DNA analysis of another tribe, the Jarawa, whose members made first contact with the outside world in 1997, suggest that the tribesmen migrated from Africa around 60,000 years ago.