papua new guinea warriors
Rofhiwa warriors perform during a cultural show in Papua New GuineaGetty

A British man and his American girlfriend managed to escape a kidnapping by a "cannibal" tribe in Papua New Guinea. Matthew Iovane and Michelle Clemens were on holiday on the island nation when they were suddenly attacked.

Speaking to The Sun, they told of how they were attacked by men with machetes while trekking the Kokoda Trail. The men beat them and stripped them almost naked before tying them up and leading them into the jungle. The men reportedly knew enough English to say: "We will kill you."

Iovane is a brand consultant from London and met his girlfriend, restaurant hostess, Clemens, while visiting her native Los Angeles in 2015. He had previously appeared on the Channel 4 reality survival show, Shipwrecked.

"We'd joked about the famous cannibals of Papua New Guinea's jungle but it was no laughing matter when these men came out of the bush," Iovane told The Sun. "I thought we were being robbed so we put down our bags and tried to calm them, saying they could take everything when they started pushing and threatening us."

"Then one turned on me, swinging his machete and began tearing at my clothes until I was stripped virtually naked. They looked fearsome and I was too terrified to fight back."

As they were being marched along a ridge, the couple made a break for it. "But nothing mattered except getting away, so we ran," Iovane said. They managed to find a man building a shelter and he and local villagers helped them. They were picked up by a rescue helicopter and are now recovering in a hospital in the capital.