In the tourist filled location of Stone Town, Zanzibar, two Jewish British teens had acid thrown in their faces Wednesday by men driving by on a moped. The incident followed two previous attacks they had suffered at the hands of locals.
The Telegraph reported that Katie Gee and Kristie Trup, both 18 years old, were on their way to dine in a restaurant on the beach when two unspecified men drove past the pair and threw liquid at them before speeding off.
The teenagers had been volunteering in Stone Town for a charity called Art in Tanzania. A member of the charity, Bashir Ismail, said that the girls had argued with a nearby shop owner a few days ago while grocery shopping.
Ismail said the two women were "properly dressed" when the attack happened. "The two attackers passed by several white tourists in the area and threw acid after reaching closer to them which raises suspicion of a planned attack," Ismail said.
The teenagers were transferred to Aga Khan Hospital in Dar es Salaam, in mainland Tanzania, and were treated for burns on the faces, chests, arms, and legs. A doctor at the hospital who was part of the team that attended to the teenagers said that their injuries were "mild".
"We suspect that whatever the liquid was, it was not true acid, it may have been diluted," he said. "They have burns on their hands from wiping the liquid off. They have minor injuries on their chests and their necks. Considering it could have been very bad, what they have is quite mild.”
Both teens were shaken up from the attack, although there was a previous run-in with another local who slapped Trup in the face for publicly singing during the period of Ramadan.
The report claims the girls were “walking through the town singing on Ramadan when a Muslim lady came up to her shouting. She lost her temper and reacted violently, and hit her in the face for singing”.
A friend named Oli Cohen stated that it was an isolated incident and that no injuries were incurred. He went on to say, “I know they felt uneasy being in public. Some people would stare or say things to them. I think white, good-looking North London Jewish girls walking around in Zanzibar always make them a target as it's a Muslim country.”
Concerns from the teenager’s parents grew thick as arrangements for their return flight to the UK have been stalled by the Foreign Office and insurers.
"We are talking to the Foreign Office, trying to get the insurance company to move things along. We want them back so they can be treated in the UK," said a friend of the Trup family.
As the teenagers recovered in the hospital, the president of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete, visited them and shared a statement:
"It's a shameful attack that tarnishes the image of our country, I order security agents to speed up the investigations and arrest the suspects," he said.
Senior officers aim to question an Islamist preacher, Sheikh Issa Ponda Issa, who has spent time in Zanzibar exhorting young audiences to demonstrate "like in Egypt."
"He has been going around telling youth that they must stage endless demonstrations and protests like in Egypt to disrupt the government and show that he has power," an officer based in Stone Town said.
Police officials in Zanzibar, which is a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, had speculated that there would be some outbreaks of violence during the end of Ramadan, particularly during the Eid holiday, which is when the attack occurred.