Two teenage victims of an acid attack in Zanzibar were being treated in a specialist burns unit in London on Friday as police were ordered to arrest a radical Islamic preacher suspected of inspiring the assault.
Kirstie Trup and Katie Gee, both 18, were taken to the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital by ambulance as soon as their medical evacuation flight landed at RAF Northolt in Middlesex.
Katie's mother Nicky Gee said the families had been through a "terrible ordeal", and a family friend said the 18-year-olds were "as well as can be expected".
Zanzibar acid burn victims Katie Gee and Kirstie Trup (left). Photo: Facebook
Andy Williams, consultant burns and plastic surgeon, said the teenagers' injuries were still being assessed.
"Both girls are well and their families are with them," he said. "They will be staying at Chelsea and Westminster. Both families would like to thank everyone that has helped to bring the girls back."
Katie sent a tweet to friends from her hospital bed saying: "Thank you for all your support x."
A photo of one of two British teenagers injured in an acid attack in Zanzibar. The unidentified image was released by the victims' families. Photo: AP
As the two friends arrived back in London, Mrs Gee said: "I am worried sick. I am just glad she is home. We spoke this morning and she said she was OK. I can't say any more."
The family friend said: "They seemed OK. They were pleased to be coming home. Katie is on pain relief."
A picture of Katie's injuries, showing burns to her chest, neck and lower face, was released by her family.
The teenagers, who were on a month-long break volunteering for a charity when two men on a moped threw acid over them, suffered injuries to their faces, hands, legs, backs, necks and chests.
Moments after they were attacked in Stone Town, Zanzibar, they ran into the Babu Cafe on the waterfront, said Noonan Babu, the restaurant owner.
"[Katie] came in crying and shouting, 'my face, my face, my face', and she ran straight to the toilet to splash herself with water," Mr Noonan said.
"My staff and other people helped her by giving her big bottles of water from the fridge to cover herself with and wash off the liquid. It was all over her. [Kirstie] ran straight to the sea to try to wash it off."
Suspicion grew that a hardline Islamic group called Uamsho may have inspired the attack. The group, which wants Zanzibar to become fully independent from Tanzania and impose strict Muslim rules, is thought to be behind anti-Christian leaflets distributed recently telling Muslims to prepare for "a call" to action.
Uamsho is suspected of being behind an acid attack in November on a moderate imam and the shooting dead of a Catholic priest in February.
Rev Cosmas Shayo, parish priest of St Joseph's Catholic Cathedral, whose predecessor, Father Evarist Mushi, was murdered, said: "These people are dedicated only on bringing chaos to further their aims."
One of Uamsho's key supporters is the Muslim cleric Sheikh Ponda Issa Ponda, who has been urging Muslims to rise up "like in Egypt".
Tanzania's director of public prosecutions, Elieza Feleshi, said: "Such behaviour is intolerable. We hope the police will exercise their powers wisely and arrest Ponda."
Five men were questioned as witnesses yesterday, but no arrests were made.
Kirstie's father Marc Trup said the teenagers were well aware of the need to dress modestly and had been told not to wear any symbols of their Jewish faith.