March 31, 2016

Two teachers among five killed in terrorist attack in Mogadishu

Five people, including two volunteer expat teachers, were killed when unidentified gunmen attacked a school bus carrying students, teachers and school staff in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Wednesday, police said.

The gunmen, who were in a car, opened fire at the school bus as it was passing four kilometers away from Mogadishu.

The school bus belonged to a Turkish school opened by Turkish entrepreneurs inspired by the teachings of Turkish-Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen in Mogadishu. All the victims of the attack were employees of the Turkish school.

The teachers who lost their lives in the attack were identified as Turkish national Hıdır Çalka and Azerbaijani national Banu Kemaliye İsmailov.

Çalka who is of Kurdish origin died at the scene of the attack. He is survived by his two children.

İsmailov was rushed to the hospital but did not survive. The other victims of the attack was the school bus driver, the security guard and the translator for the school. Their names were not immediately available.

Five people including two students were also injured in the attack. The injured individuals are being treated at hospitals in Mogadishu.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, and al Shabaab, the Somali militant group aligned to al Qaeda, was not immediately available for comment.

Former president of the Kimse Yok Mu charity organization İsmail Cingöz who announced the news of the attack from his Twitter account, wrote: “Unfortunately, there are slain teachers and injured in the heinous terror attack in Somalia. Two Turkish teachers have fallen victims to this attack.”

There are more than 1,000 Turkish schools in 160 countries opened by the followers of the faith-based Gülen movement, which is inspired by Gülen. They are funded by generous Anatolians who are encouraged to open these schools by Gülen who promotes educational activities, peace and dialogue all around the world.

The Turkish schools, which once gained much praise from Turkish state officials including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, have received their share from an all-out war and defamation campaign launched by Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) against the Gülen movement, which is also known as Hizmet movement.

Despite the fact that many government figures, and even Erdoğan himself, had earlier praised these schools on multiple occasions for their success and promotion of Turkish culture abroad, Erdoğan ordered Turkish diplomats working abroad to lobby against these schools in their host countries in a speech in 2014.

In another speech in 2015, he called on the closure of Turkish schools abroad in remarks that attracted widespread criticism.

“In the countries we visit we have been talking about the status of these schools and saying they should be closed down,” Erdoğan said during a visit to Ethiopia.

Erdoğan also said he has been telling African authorities that the Turkish Ministry of Education is ready to offer the same service provided by these schools. “The ministry is close to finishing its preparations to that effect,” he said.

Published on Turkish Minute, 31 March 2016, Thursday