MOGADISHU, Somalia - The devastating blast went off as Abshir Mahdi Abukar approached a notice board to see if he was one of the lucky young Somalis awarded a chance to attend college abroad. Shrapnel broke his leg and decapitated a classmate before his eyes. Another friend caught fire.
“We were just students who were aspiring to have a bright future, but that disappeared when a lot of bright students were consigned to graves,’’ the 20-year-old, who wants to study economics at a university, said from his hospital bed.
The scholarships being awarded by the Turkish government are one of the rare paths for young Somalis to earn college degrees. Years of fighting have left few private education institutions in Somalia functioning.
The suicide truck bombing on Tuesday by Al Shabab, an Al Qaeda-linked group, killed more than 100 people. Among the dead were some of the country’s best and brightest in a nation beset by two decades of war and anarchy.
It was not the first time the insurgents have targeted those seeking an education to better themselves and their country.
In 2009, a suicide bombing hit a graduation ceremony for medical students. It was only the second class to receive diplomas from the medical school. Among the dead were graduates and government ministers.