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Lebanon: Stray bullets hit two planes during New Year's celebrations

Despite warnings by authorities, guns were fired into the air as part of celebrations welcoming 2023
Middle East Airlines Air Liban (MEA) Airbus A321 line up at Rafic Hariri Beirut International Airport (AFP/file photo)
Middle East Airlines Air Liban (MEA) Airbus A321 line up at Rafic Hariri Beirut International Airport (AFP/file photo)

Stray bullets fired during New Year’s celebrations in Lebanon’s capital hit two Middle East Airlines (MEA) planes parked at Beirut’s international airport late on Saturday, authorities said. 

The bullets caused minor damage to the jets but no casualties were reported. 

An-Nahar newspaper said the T7-ME2 and T7-ME2 model aircraft were later towed and taken for repairs.

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A similar incident happened in November when a stray bullet hit an MEA plane during its landing in Beirut. No casualties were recorded at the time.

Firing into the air is common in Lebanon and other Arab countries during celebrations and happy occasions. 

Lebanon’s Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi issued a stern warning to citizens ahead of the New Year celebrations and urged them to refrain from shooting their guns indiscriminately.  

“I invite citizens to spend this night with joy and be careful, especially concerning indiscriminate shooting, because it is a crime, and we will strictly hold people accountable [if they don’t comply],” he told MTV Lebanon news channel. 

Local media shared a photo of a phone it said was hit with a stray bullet when its owner was leaving Beirut’s international airport late on Saturday. 

Middle East Eye could not independently verify the authenticity of the photo. 

Lebanese Internal Security Forces said in addition to the two aircraft that were hit, indiscriminate shootings during New Year’s celebrations had caused minor injuries to three people in other areas across the country.

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