A Saudi woman is fighting for her life after she was struck by a stray bullet from a celebratory fire.
The victim, in her 40s, was admitted to hospital in Turaif in the northern part of the kingdom after she was hit in the head, a police spokesperson confirmed, Saudi daily Al Sharq reported on Thursday.
“An investigation was launched and investigators concluded that the source of the fire was a wedding celebration,” Awaid Al Enezi said. “The man responsible for the wedding was detained and referred to the public prosecution.”
The tragedy happened four days after a wedding turned into a drama in the town of Turbah near Makkah when a young man was left in a coma by celebratory fire.
The 20-year-old victim was among the guests celebrating the wedding of his relative when he was hit by a stray bullet.
However, the spokesperson for the police in Makkah said that the victim was the one who fired the gun and that he unwittingly shot himself in the head.
With the new surge in the number of casualties from “friendly” fire, the police in Makkah last week reiterated the zero-tolerance policy adopted by Saudi Arabia towards celebratory fire.
“We and the other security agencies throughout the kingdom remain fully committed to fighting the phenomenon of firing bullets in the air to celebrate events,” the police said.
“Measures include requesting all multi-function halls to install surveillance cameras that cover the open spaces outside, and not to lease the hall until there is a signed agreement there would be no celebratory fire. The event host should also commit to report any violation or any attempt to fire bullets,” the police said, adding that strict punitive action is promptly taken against those who do not comply with the rules and regulations, Saudi news site Sabq reported on Tuesday.
The decision for the strict zero-tolerance policy was made four years ago following a noticeable increase in the incidence of fatal and serious injuries to innocent people by stray bullets during public celebrations.
Under Saudi regulations that outlaw the dangerous celebratory gunfire, even the groom can be arrested in case guests start shooting in the air. The rules are part of a drive by the Saudi authorities to put an end to the deep-rooted tradition of firing wildly into the air to celebrate a happy occasion.
The authorities have assigned policemen to monitor palaces, wedding halls and relaxation areas to ensure full compliance with the law amid warnings that whoever breaks the law will be severely punished.
In March, Saudi authorities arrested two grooms on their wedding night, following the death of a five-year-old girl in a house next to the wedding halls.
As the weddings were being celebrated in the neighbouring halls, one of the guests fired bullets in the air to mark his jubilation.
However, one stray bullet hit a girl playing in the courtyard of a nearby house and killed her.
The police who were called to investigate the incident decided to arrest the grooms until the real culprit was identified.
In April last year, a wedding party in Saudi Arabia almost turned into a tragedy after the groom’s brother lost control of his Kalashnikov in celebratory fire.
A 30-second clip posted on social media showed the brother walking alongside bridegroom towards the wedding hall while firing one bullet at a time in the air in jubilation and to show off his skills.
However, he suddenly lost control of the Kalashnikov and unleashed a hail of bullets that ricocheted off the wall, prompting the guests to look for cover to avoid being struck.