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Cleric 'held by acid attack police'

A cleric wanted in connection with the acid attack which injured two British teenagers in Zanzibar has handed himself in to police, according to reports.

Sheikh Issa Ponda Issa was injured earlier this weekend as he tried to evade police, following the attack on Kirstie Trup and Katie Gee.

Police hunting for sheikh Ponda said they would do "everything they can" to catch the perpetrators. But the Telegraph reported that the cleric - injured in the shoulder after a stand-off with police - surrendered to officers.

The development comes as the 18-year-old friends, from north London, begin their third night at London's Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. A spokesman confirmed the teenagers remain in a "stable" condition, while medics treat them for burns inflicted in an unprovoked attack while they were on a volunteering holiday on the island, off the coast of Tanzania.

Earlier, 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. This is a serious police investigation, and we are doing everything we can."

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.

One friend of the pair told how one of the two men involved in the unprovoked attack "smiled" before throwing acid.

Speaking from Zanzibar, medical student Olivia Moore told Channel 4 News: "The two men were on a moped and they went past a group of tourists. They stopped for the girls and the two men then looked at each other, nodded, and then the man on the back of the bike smiled and threw acid on the girls. From then on it's just chaotic. There was no incident that preceded the actual attack. Everyone was shocked. Nobody can think of a motivation or anything that precipitated this."

Miss Gee has already taken to Twitter to thank well-wishers for their support, while a photograph released by the teenagers' families showed the injuries one of them suffered in the attack.

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.


From Belfast Telegraph