Two British teenagers attacked with battery acid during a volunteer stint in Tanzania were returned the UK today. The girls have been identified as Kirstie Trupp and Katie Gee, both 18 and from London.
The attack occurred on the island of Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous region of the country known for its tourism industry.
During the attack, two youths on bicycles rode up to the girls and splashed battery acid on their hands, faces, chests, and backs. The girls are reported to have suffered horrible burns from the attack.
After being returned to the UK, the girls were rushed to the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London.
“We are still assessing their injuries. Both girls are well and their families are with them," said Andy Williams, a consultant surgeon at the hospital.
“Both families would like to thank everyone that's helped to bring the girls back," he added.
The attack took place on Wednesday. The girls were in Zanzibar on a two-week long “Art in Tanzania” volunteer project.
Zanzibar police have detained seven suspects in the incident. A reward of roughly $6,500 is being offered by the police to anyone who helps police find and detain the attackers.
“We have interrogated seven people, including a tour guide, and traders who where close to scene,” regional police commissioner Mkadam Khamis said. “Unfortunately many are not providing clear information about the incident to lead us to specific conclusions yet. We need more time to continue with the investigation and more of our investigators are out in the field.”
The attack was apparently not the first the girls suffered while on the island. Several days earlier, a woman slapped one of the girls for singing during Ramadan. The girls reportedly got in a heated argument with a storeowner while on the island as well.
While Zanzibar police are calling the attack an isolated incident, many suspect that the girls may have been attacked by members of the radical Islamic group “Uamsho”. The island has seen an increase of religious violence in the past several years. Last November, a cleric was hospitalized in an acid attack as well, and two Christian leaders on the island were killed earlier this year. In addition to attacks on people, five churches were torched last year.