The two Jewish victims of a shocking acid attack in Zanzibar have returned home to London to receive further treatment for their burns, [the Independent reported]( http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/five-men-held-over-acid-attack-on-british-charity-workers-in-zanzibar-8751297.html on Friday.
Katie Gee and Kirstie Trup, both 18, landed at RAF Northolt airfield today after leaving the Tanzania capital of Dar Es Salaam earlier.
“I am just glad she is home,” said Nicky Gee told the Independent her daughter’s return. “I want to get inside and see her. We spoke this morning and she said she was okay. It has been a terrible ordeal for the families.”
An unnamed friend, who claimed to have spoken to one of the girls during a stopover in Egypt, said that the girls “seemed okay,” and that “they were pleased to be coming home. They are as well as can be expected. Katie is on pain relief.”
Speaking outside the family’s home in Hampstead Garden prior to the girls’ arrival, Jeremy Gee, Katie’s father said that the both families were extremely worried. “We are absolutely devastated. The photographs that I have seen are absolutely horrendous,” he said. “The level of the burns are beyond imagination.”
The young women were walking to get dinner at a local beach restaurant went two men on a motorcyle thew acid on them. Both girls sustained injuries to the face, chest and back.
Jakaya Kikwete, Tanzania’s president, visited the two British girls in the hospital after the attack. He vowed that their attackers would be found, the Telegraph reported.
Zanzibar police announced they would offer a reward of 10m Tanzanian shillings ($6,163) for any information about the attackers. Five men are being held as part of an investigation, the Independent reported.
Bashir Ismail, of Art in Tanzania, the organization with which the two girls were volunteering, told The Telegraph that Gee and Trup had argued with a nearby shop owner in the days leading up to the attack when they went for groceries.
Ismail added that the two women, who lived in Stone Town, were appropriately dressed for the holy month of Ramadan when the attack occurred. A spokesman for the Trup family confirmed, saying “the girls weren’t doing anything wrong.They were fully covered and had long sleeves on.”
Katie Gee grew up in East Finchley, in North London, while Trup comes from nearby Hampstead Garden. A friend told the Telegraph that Gee, a former student of the prestigious Francis Holland School in the Chelsea neighborhood of London — which costs £5,375 per term — was chastised a few days ago for singing during Ramadan.
Oli Cohen, 21, a classmate of Gee’s, was surprised by the incident.
“The girls were walking through the town singing on Ramadan when a Muslim lady came up to her shouting,” he explained. “She lost her temper and reacted violently - and hit her in the face for singing.”
“I don’t know what song it was but it wouldn’t have been anything excessively aggressive or rude - they’re so well-mannered and respectful they had gone to the town to do voluntary charity work,” he added.
The girls were in Zanzibar volunteering as teachers at St. Monica nursery school, linked to the Catholic church, as part of Art in Tanzania, a not-for-profit organization that offers interns opportunities to work in education, social work, HIV/AIDS awareness, arts and music, film-making and journalism in the region. This week was to be their last on the island.
Gee’s [Twitter feed] reveals a vivacious teenage girl, anxious to see her friends again and excited about recent celebrity sightings.
In two days I’ve met bill Clinton, Dakota fanning and the man with brown hair from entourage ampmdash; Katie Jemma Gee (@katiejgee) August 6, 2013
Former President Bill Clinton was in Zanzibar on Sunday to show support anti-malaria work as part of his Clinton Health Access Initiative.
Though there has been much speculation that this was a planned attack, Marc Trup, Kirstie’s father and a dentist, said that he didn’t think that was the case.
“We couldn’t get anything out of them because they had been burned,” he [told The Guardian](http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/09/zanzibar-acid-attack-return-britain. “Both girls are very shocked and very frightened.” Regarding his daughter’s injuries, he said: “She can still see and she is not dead. Whatever it is we will cope with it.” Trup added that the women had not been wearing anything marking them as Jewish, including the Star of David. “We know it’s a Muslim country. They were western girls. Unfortunately they went out during the month of Ramadan. There has been a huge alert in African countries with potential threats. Maybe it’s connected, maybe not.”
But Cohen, Gee’s friend, thinks there is a definite connection. “I think white good-looking north London Jewish girls walking around in Zanzibar always make them a target as it’s a Muslim country.”
The pair were rushed by ambulance to the specialist burn units in Chelsea and Westminster Hospital for treatment and have been reunited with their families.
Anne Cohen is the Forward’s deputy digital media editor. When she’s not looking for the secret Jewish history of Voodoo in New Orleans, or making lists about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she writes for The Assimilator. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism with an M.S. magazine concentration in 2012.