British pupils ambushed by bandits in Tanzania

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GUNMEN forced a group of 16 British students and staff from their vehicle during a roadside ambush on an expedition in east Africa, it has emerged.

Money, cameras and mobile phones were stolen as the robbers rifled through their belongings during the hold-up in the Tabora region of Tanzania.

The group of 14 students, aged 15 to 18, and two staff from private Cranbrook School in Kent were “shaken” but uninjured following the robbery last month.

A police escort was assigned to them for the remainder of the four-week trip by the regional police commissioner, headmaster John Weeds said.

The British High Commission in Dar es Salaam was told about the incident, which Mr Weeds said would not deter the school’s pupils from travelling to east Africa again.

The attack preceded one in the neighbouring island of Zanzibar in which two British teenagers had acid thrown at them.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said they had not changed their travel advice for Tanzania and it remained largely “trouble-free”.

Mr Weeds said: “The vehicle was not targeted, and there were a number of other local people in the same queue of traffic involved. It wasn’t just about the students.

“The students were fine. There is no accounting for the emotional effect of such an episode as that is difficult to diagnose, but they came back in high spirits. We will review what happened but we are very enthusiastic about sending our students to the developing world. It’s a very valuable way of broadening horizons.”

The school has been sending students to east Africa for around 30 years to work with local people on aid projects.

Mr Weeds praised the response of the Tanzanian police to the robbery. Four men are due in court after admitting robbery, according to reports.

The school is closed for the summer holidays but a statement was posted on their website explaining the incident last month. It was unclear why the robbery was publicised now.

The incident happened around the same time as two 18-year-olds were attacked with acid on Zanzibar, the semi-autonomous region of Tanzania.

They were on the final week of volunteering at a nursery school when acid was thrown at their faces on 7 August.

Kirstie Trup and Katie Gee, both from London, suffered ­injuries to their heads, chests and hands.

They were attacked in the capital, Zanzibar City. Police said two men on a moped threw a corrosive ­substance at them.

Jakaya Kikwete, Tanzania’s president, visited Miss Gee and Miss Trup in hospital.

“It’s a shameful attack that tarnishes the image of our country. I order security agents to speed up the investigations and arrest the suspects,” he said at the time.

Marc Trup, father of Kirstie, said his daughter had jumped into the sea after the attack, limiting the extent of her injuries. Miss Gee is understood to have sustained more serious injuries and is also expected to need a skin graft.