09 August, 2013

Five men arrested over acid attack on British charity workers in Zanzibar

Five men arrested over acid attack on British charity workers in Zanzibar

Volunteer teachers Katie Gee and Kirstie Trup to be seen by UK surgeons for ‘horrendous’ burns
Five men have been arrested in relation to an attack on two teenage teaching volunteers after acid was thrown on their faces and chests in Zanzibar, according to reports.

Zanzibar police had earlier offered a reward of 10m Tanzanian shillings (£3, 971) for any information leading to the capture of the attackers.

Katie Gee and Kirstie Trup, both aged 18, were badly burned when two men on a moped threw the corrosive liquid at them on Wednesday.

They rushed to the sea to try to wash it from their bodies before being taken from the East African island to a hospital in Dar es Salaam on the Tanzanian mainland for treatment. They were due to be seen by surgeons in London when they arrived home this today.

The girls were being rushed back to London for treatment this morning.

Speaking outside the Trup family’s home in Hampstead Garden Suburb in north-west London, Jeremy Gee, Katie’s father, said: “We are absolutely devastated. The photographs that I have seen are absolutely horrendous. The level of the burns are beyond imagination.

“She will be rushed to hospital where consultants and surgeons are waiting for the girls to arrive. Me and her brothers and the rest of the family are devastated.”

Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete visited the teenagers in hospital before they were released and taken to an airport. He said: “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.”

Ms Gee and Ms Trup were working as volunteer teachers at a primary school on the island in the Indian Ocean and were in the final week of their trip. Their attackers reportedly rode up beside them as they walked through the Stone Town area of the semi-autonomous Zanzibar City on their way to eat dinner at a beach restaurant. Both teenagers were said by Nicky Gee, Katie’s mother, to have been “dressed appropriately” in relation to the island’s customs. Ms Gee had been startled earlier in the trip when she was hit in the street by a Muslim woman for singing during Ramadan.

The deputy police commissioner, Mkadam Khamis, had said: “The motive for the attack on the volunteers... has not been established. Investigations are on until we apprehend the criminals. The men poured this liquid and ran away. The girls managed to get first aid very fast and were taken to hospital. The doctors said the injuries are relatively minor. There is discolouration but they are not expected to be scarred. They are very lucky in that respect.”

Tanzania’s Tourism Minister, Said Ali Mbarouk, added: “I beg our nationals, this is not something they should be doing. Tourism is the strongest pillar of our economy, so if we do such acts we are killing our economy and our livelihoods in general. So it is not an honourable thing to do, it’s a bad thing and it should be condemned by all citizens of Zanzibar.”

A spokeswoman for trip organisers i-to-i Travel said: “The safety of our customers is of paramount importance to us and our own investigation will be launched as soon as it is possible to do so.” The Foreign Office says 75,000 British nationals mostly have “trouble free” visits to Tanzania every year, but “violent and armed crime is increasing” and “there is an underlying threat from terrorism”.


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