Tragedy in Saudi: Baby killed by stray bullet fired during celebrations
The five-year-old baby was hit by a stray bullet from up to a kilometre away according to police officials (File/Shutterstock)
A five month-old baby girl was killed by a stray bullet which authorities fear was fired into the air as a celebration, it has been reported.
Saudi Arabia banned 'joy gunfire' two years ago but the practice has continued despite an apparent crackdown and another accident which killed 23 wedding guests.
Its latest alleged victim was taken to hospital in the Saudi city of Khamis Mushayt but died after spending 24 hours on a life support machine, her father told local media.
Arab News reported that the baby, a Moroccan national named Tufaha, was with her mother on the pavement outside a travel agent where her father Saeed was buying tickets to Morocco.
The bullet is said to have descended vertically from the sky, lodging in the baby's forehead and destroying her skull.
'My wife had found Tufaha covered in blood', the girl's father told Arab News. 'A young Saudi man had helped transfer my baby to the Al-Hayat National Hospital Asir, while I was still inside the office, oblivious to what had happened.'
The girl's father said he later received a phone call from his wife shouting and screaming and rushed to the hospital's intensive care unit.
He was followed by detectives, forensic experts and security agents who he said tried to stop him from seeing his daughter's body.
'Policemen told me later that a stray bullet that had come from within one square kilometer had settled in my child’s forehead,' he added, saying officers would be spreading warnings through the city's mosques.
Once a popular sight at weddings, 'celebratory shooting' was outlawed by Saudi Arabia's authorities in 2012 over fears it was killing bystanders.
But some people have continued the practice despite the dangers.
Just a month after the ban, 23 people died near the Saudi oil community of Abqaiq when gunfire brought down an electrical cable which landed on a metal door and electrocuted the wedding party.
Police have launched a crackdown on the tradition, deploying undercover patrol cars and shutting down some wedding ceremonies, according to local media and the BBC.
Six months later a seven-year-old boy was killed by a stray bullet as he walked to a July 4 fireworks display with his father in Midlothian, Virginia.
Stray bullets are nothing new - they were blamed for 20 deaths in 1991 when Kuwaiti citizens fired their weapons into the sky to celebrate the end of the Gulf War.
Three more deaths reportedly ensued when Iraqi football fans shot into the air in Baghdad to celebrate the team defeating Vietnam in the 2007 Asia Cup.
And guns firing into the air are not limited to the Arab world. Last month Indian media reported an eight-year-old girl had been killed at a wedding after the father of the groom fired his gun into the air in celebration.
Children have also been killed by 'celebratory firing' in the U.S., which has 30,000 gun deaths a year.
Last year ten-year-old Aaliyah Boyer died in the early hours of New Year's Day in Elkton, Maryland, after a neighbour fired a gun into the air during the festivities.
Brendon Mackey collapsed in the car park of a restaurant at about 9pm and doctors only realised he had a gunshot wound once he was being treated in hospital.
British firearms expert David Dyson told MailOnline: 'If a bullet is fired into the air it will come down somewhere - it won't have the velocity or energy that it had when it left the barrel of the gun, but as is clearly evident, the energy can still be sufficient to cause death.
'When the bullet falls it may not have the stabilising rotational effect imparted by the rifling of the barrel, and can tumble.
'There is therefore an unknown element in that you can't predict whether the bullet will land sideways for instance, although the shape and type of the bullet has an effect.'
By Dan Bloom