Friday, July 16, 2004

Falling bullets in Iraq

Next time you read a story about people injured during "some shooting" in Iraq, especially when women and children are mentioned, remember this from an Iraqi doctor.

Shooting in the air in funerals or weddings-or when something important happens-is an old tradition used in Iraq and in some other nations, originally as communication means to inform the neighborhood and to call them to gather and participate in the occasion as there was no other *fast* way of communication at that time. Also the shooting is used to show the (muscles) of the tribe.
Strangely, this method is still used even after cell phones have become available!

When I reached the health center I discovered that not only one man was dead; a woman was killed and three other people (one of them is a 7 year old kid) were injured by the falling bullets. In addition to that, a bullet had penetrated an eight thousand gallon gasoline tanker that was waiting to be evacuated near the gas station and it blew up causing a huge damage to the station (the suburb suffered from a severe shortage in gasoline for 5 days after that). I also discovered that this wasn’t the first time for such accidents to happen. People told me that several similar accidents took place in the last several months but I wasn’t aware of those because I spend a considerable portion of my time in Baghdad.

This accident made me believe that strict measures must be taken to avoid the recurrence of such unnecessary loss because sometimes this random shooting in the air in a residential area can cause casualties not less than those caused by a car bomb and actually it did more than once; I recall that in 1988 when the war with Iran ended there was enormous shooting that lasted for a whole night and the result was catastrophic; hundreds were killed and more than a thousand were injured and last year, when Uday and Qussay were killed, sources from the ministry of health reported that over 70 people were killed and a larger number injured. This wasn’t because of some clashes or bomb attacks, it was because of the free falling bullets.


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