Stray bullets hit 2 jets at Beirut airport, no casualties

American Age Official

BEIRUT (AP) — Stray bullets from gunfire celebrations for the new year hit two Middle East Airlines jets parked at Beirut’s international airport causing minor damage to the planes without hurting anyone, an airline official said Sunday.

Intense shooting in the air occurred around midnight Saturday in Beirut and other parts of Lebanon to celebrate the new year despite repeated warnings by officials for residents not to do so.

The two jets are now being fixed at the Rafik Hariri International Airport, according to the official who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. The official said the bullets hit the jets after midnight Saturday.

On Nov. 10, a stray bullet hit an MEA jet while landing in Beirut, causing some material damage. No one among the passengers or crew was hurt, the head of the Lebanese airline company said at the time.

MEA chief said Mohamad El-Hout told reporters earlier this year that the airport often faces such incidents, in addition to birds that fly in the area, endangering aviation.

Shooting in the air is common in Lebanon, where people often open fire to celebrate passing school or university exams, as well as during weddings and funerals. Groups firing into the air also tends to follow when the country’s political leaders give speeches.

Many Lebanese have pistols and automatic rifles at home, many of them left over from the country’s 1975-90 civil war.

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