New Year's Eve celebratory gunfire kills 1 in Lebanon

BEIRUT (AP) — Celebratory gunfire to ring in the New Year killed a Syrian woman living as a refugee in eastern Lebanon and struck an airplane parked at Beirut’s airport in two separate incidents, Lebanon’s official news agency said Friday.

The Syrian woman died early on Friday after a bullet struck her in the head in a refugee camp in Baalbek, according to the National News Agency.

The Middle East Airlines plane on the tarmac at Beirut’s airport was hit as people in the vicinity of the southern Beirut neighborhood fired in the air in celebration. The plane later took off as scheduled after engineers made sure it was safe to fly.

Shooting from guns and rifles into the air in celebration is common in some parts of Lebanon at events such as weddings, funerals, when political leaders give speeches — and even when a student passes high school exams.

In September, Lebanon’s leading soccer player Mohammed Atwi died, nearly a month after he was struck in the head by a stray bullet fired by mourners during a funeral for one of the victims of this summer’s massive Beirut port explosion. Atwi was 33.