Al-Shabab militants kill 50 soldiers in attack on Somalia military base

A general view shows wreckages of cars destroyed during an explosion near a hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia March 28, 2019. REUTERS
Updated 14 August 2019
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Al-Shabab militants kill 50 soldiers in attack on Somalia military base

  • One military officer said bombs exploded outside the base

MOGADISHU: The Islamist militant group Al-Shabab claimed to have killed at least 50 soldiers in a double car-bomb and gun attack on Wednesday on a military base in Somalia.

Civilians were also killed in the crossfire in an hour-long gunbattle at the base in Awdheegle, 70 km southwest of the capital, Mogadishu.

“We heard two huge blasts and gunfire from the direction of the military base. I saw several soldiers running away to escape but we cannot know how many were killed,” Awdheegle resident Aden Abdullahi said.

Halima Farah, a shopkeeper, said government troops were in control of the town after the attack.  “We believe both the militants and government suffered great loss of life, but we cannot see their casualties. Stray bullets killed people in their homes.”

Al-Shabab, which is linked to Al-Qaeda, said it had killed 50 soldiers and lost only two of its members who drove the car bombs. Army vehicles were also burned, it said.

However, the Somali army’s operations commander Gen. Yusuf Rageh Odowa said his forces had repelled the militants, and that many of the attackers’ corpses lay at the scene while others were captured. 

“After the blasts they tried to attack the army defenses but were defeated. We are still pursuing them. Some soldiers sustained minor injuries from blast shrapnel but nothing major,” he said.

Capt. Hussein Ali, a military officer from a nearby town, said soldiers behind sandbags had stopped the car bombs from reaching the base by firing to detonate them.

“There are casualties from Al-Shabab and government forces, but we have no exact figure,” he said.

Wednesday’s attack followed last week’s recapture by government forces of most of Awdheegle district. Al-Shabab was forced out of Mogadishu in 2011 and has since lost most of its other strongholds.

However, the attack has renewed the focus on the militants’ links with Qatar. Evidence emerged this month that Doha colluded in Al-Shabab attacks in Somalia targeting the assets of other Gulf states.

A phone conversation between Khalifa Kayed Al-Muhanadi, a Qatari businessman close to Qatar’s emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, and Hassan bin Hamza Hashem, the Qatari ambassador to Somalia, revealed Doha’s involvement in Al-Shabab terrorism in the port of Bosaso, which is operated by the Dubai company DP World.

“The bombings and killings, we know who is behind them,” Al-Muhanadi told the envoy. “Our friends were behind the last bombings.”


Cairo turns to Tokyo for a lesson on education

Updated 23 August 2019
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Cairo turns to Tokyo for a lesson on education

  • The Japanese education system is recognized as one of the top five worldwide

CAIRO: Egypt is seeking Japan’s help to improve its education system, which has fallen to 130th place in international rankings.

The Japanese education system is recognized as one of the top five worldwide, and Cairo is hoping to apply key aspects of Japan’s approach to the Egyptian curriculum.

Education has played a major role in transforming Japan from a feudal state receiving aid following World War II to a modern economic powerhouse. 

During a visit to Japan in 2016, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi discussed political and economic development with Japanese officials, and was also briefed on the Japanese education system.

The Egyptian leader visited Japanese schools and called on Japan to help Egypt introduce a similar system in its schools.  

As part of Egyptian-Japanese cooperation, Japan’s embassy established cultural cooperation as well as technical and professional education links between the two countries. Collaboration has been strengthened from kindergarten to post-university, with Japanese experts contributing in various education fields.

Japanese experts have held seminars in schools across the country, focusing on basic education. 

During one seminar, Japan highlighted the importance of enhancing education by playing games during kindergarten and primary school, encouraging children’s ability and desire to explore.  

Education expert Ola El-Hazeq told Arab News that the Japanese system focuses on developing students’ sense of collective worth and responsibility toward society. This starts with their surrounding environment by taking care of school buildings, educational equipment and school furniture, for example.

“Japanese schools are known for being clean,” El-Hazeq said. “The first thing that surprises a school visitor is finding sneakers placed neatly in a locker or on wooden shelves at the school entrance. Each sneaker has its owner’s name on it. This is a habit picked up at most primary and intermediate schools as well as in many high schools.”

Japanese students also clean their classrooms, collect leaves that have fallen in the playground and take out the garbage. In many cases, teachers join students to clean up schools and also public gardens and beaches during the summer holidays.

El-Hazeq added that neither the teachers nor the students find it beneath their dignity to carry out such chores.

The academic year in Japan continues for almost 11 months, different from most other countries, with the Japanese academic year starting on April 1 and ending on March 31 the following year.

Japan’s school days and hours are relatively longer in comparison with other countries. Usually the school day is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Teachers normally work until 5 p.m. but sometimes up to 7 p.m. Holidays are shorter than in other countries. Spring and winter holidays are no longer than 10 days, and the summer holiday ranges from 40 to 45 days.