Preacher shot in hunt for girls’ acid attackers

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Police hunting for attackers who threw acid over two British teenagers say they will do “everything they can” to catch the perpetrators.

The statement from police comes as a radical Muslim preacher wanted in connection with the attack on Kirstie Trup and Katie Gee in Zanzibar has gone on the run after being shot by officers.

Sheikh Issa Ponda Issa was hit in the shoulder with a tear-gas canister as he tried to escape from officers after being cornered near Tanzania’s capital Dar es Salaam.

Faustine Shilogile, a police commander in Morogoro, where the sheikh was shot, said: “He has not been arrested. He has been shot at. We have been looking for him in all corners of the country.”

The victims, both 18 and from north London, continue to be treated in Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, where they are said to be “well rested and comfortable”.

The police commander said: “We are no closer to finding who was responsible for this. But this is a serious police investigation, and we are doing everything we can.”

The women were admitted to hospital on Friday. They are receiving treatment for burns inflicted in an unprovoked attack while they were on a volunteering holiday on the island, off the coast of Tanzania.

Members of both teenagers’ families are keeping a bedside vigil, after the pair were flown home and immediately sent to the capital’s regional burns centre.

A hospital spokesman said yesterday: “The patients are well-rested and comfortable at the hospital. They have been with their families all day.

“Doctors are continuing to assess treatment options for both patients.”

Meanwhile, Tory MP Bill Cash, who sits on the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tanzania, has urged the Foreign Office to further upgrade its travel warning for tourists visiting both Zanzibar and Tanzania because the attack was “more than just an ordinary criminal event”.

The Foreign Office updated its Tanzania travel advice page on Friday with details of the attack and is warning British nationals to “take care” and read the guidance.

Mr Cash told a Sunday newspaper: “People need to be extra-vigilant and the Foreign Office and High Commission need to make a very thorough evaluation of the threat, as these latest attacks would seem to be on religious grounds.”

One of the victim’s injuries are much worse than her friend’s, it was reported, because helpers used dirty water on her burns.

Her friend was reportedly immersed in the sea in the aftermath of the attack at Stone Town, a beach resort, and the salt water helped her skin.