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Stone Town, Zanzibar — A friend said one of the girls had earlier been accosted for singing during Ramadan.
“She was shocked as it just came from out of the blue,” Oli Cohen, 21, told reporters. “But she wasn’t scared enough to come home she stayed out there to finish her trip and volunteering.”
Britain is concerned about Wednesday’s attack and is “in contact with the Tanzanian authorities”, the Foreign Office said in a statement.
The 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 told Reuters. “The incident occurred when the streets were deserted as most people were breaking their Ramadan fast.”
Television images showed one girl obviously in pain in the back of a car at the Zanzibar airport.
“The victims sustained facial, chest and back injuries from the acid attack,” Mkadam said.
The Britons were expected to fly home on Thursday.
The attack comes during the tourist season in the historic town and after a Zanzibar Muslim leader, Sheikh Fadhil Suleiman Soraga, was hospitalised with acid burns in a November attack.
Two Christian leaders were killed early this year in separate attacks.
A separatist group in Zanzibar, Uamsho (Awakening), is pushing for the archipelago to exit from its 1964 union with mainland Tanzania, which is ruled as a secular country. Uamsho wants to introduce Islamic Sharia law in Zanzibar.
Supporters of the group have engaged in running street battles with the police in the past, but authorities have not linked the group with the attacks on Christian clerics.