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Turkish groom accidentally sprays wedding guests with bullets

Father, aunts slain in freak nuptial firearms blunder

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A bridegroom in Turkey, seeking to enliven his nuptial celebrations by the traditional local practice of firing an automatic weapon into the air, has accidentally gunned down 11 of his wedding guests in a freak tragedy bloodbath firearms discharge mishap.

The BBC reports that the unfortunate groom, intending only to let off a magazine of 7.62mm ammunition into the sky to indicate exuberant happiness, "lost control of the weapon" - apparently an AK47 assault rifle - and inadvertently peppered his assembled friends and relatives with a withering hail of lead. The gunfire apparently killed the man's father and two of his aunts, and left another eight people injured.

According to the BBC, firing live rounds into the air "is commonplace as a celebration in parts of Turkey and has on many occasions led to deaths and injuries". The practice of "happy firing" is certainly routine in the adjacent Middle East, where especially cheerful locals will sometimes cut loose with even heavier weapons such as RPG antitank rockets.

The practice is a dangerous one even where celebratory shooters succeed in getting their weapons' muzzles above head height before opening fire. Bullets - to say nothing of rocket-grenades - fired into the sky have to come down somewhere, and will still generally hit with lethal force when they do.

In some instances results can be even deadlier, as in the well-known 2002 case in Afghanistan where partygoers opened fire in a massed volley celebration. The crew of a passing American AC-130 Spectre gunship assessed this as hostile action and responded with a devasting volley of cannon shells, followed up by seven tons of bombs from a B-52.

Apparently the Turkish government is trying to stamp out the practice of "happy firing" by the use of "harsher penalties" - though not as harsh as those meted out by the US air force - but is so far having no luck. The unfortunate Turkish groom has reportedly been arrested. ®

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