Two 18-year-old British volunteer teachers in Zanzibar have been attacked with acid.
Kirstie Trup and Katie Gee had acid thrown over them by the passenger on a moped as it passed them.
They were flown to Tanzania’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam for treatment and were then due to return to their homes in London.
Their injuries – to the face, chest and back – are not thought to be serious. Doctors who treated them said it appeared the acid had been diluted.
Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that the two had argued with a local shopkeeper days before the attack and one of them has also angered locals by singing during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.
Police described the attack as “an isolated incident”, refusing to link it to rising religious tension on the island between majority Muslims and its Christian population.
“The attackers approached the girls as they were walking on a street at around 7:15 p.m. and threw acid at them,” Zanzibar Urban West regional police commander Mkadam Khamis Mkadam said. “The incident occurred when the streets were deserted as most people were breaking their Ramadan fast.”
A separatist group in Zanzibar is pressing for the Indian Ocean island to end its 1964 union with mainland Tanzania, which is ruled as a secular country.
They want to introduce Muslim Sharia law and have clashed with police in the past.
In November last year a Zanzibar Muslim leader, Sheikh Fadhil Suleiman Soraga, had to be treated in hospital after acid was thrown over him and two Christian leaders were killed early this year in separate attacks.
The two young women were volunteer teachers at a Roman Catholic nursery school. Their work there was organised by a charity called Art in Tanzania.