ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – In what is being called a tragic accident, a ten-year-old child was killed while handling a rifle at a neighbor's house in a rural town in the Kurdistan Region on Friday.
Local authorities in Erbil Province's city of Soran were informed of the incident by workers at a nearby emergency hospital, where the minor's body had been taken, said Soran Police spokesperson Major Sadoun Hawdiyani.
The victim's family lives in Dyana, a sub-district of Soran. Witnesses told police that the child had been "mishandling" an AK-47 at the neighbor's house and accidentally discharged it.
Officials said that the child had been shot twice.
Hawdiyani also renewed calls for residents to keep guns in safe places where young people could not reach them in order to prevent such tragedies.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) recently passed a decree that seeks to limit the number of gun carriers in the region in the wake of recent incidents in which they were used to settle personal or tribal disputes.
Another phenomenon that leads to dozens of firearm casualties in the Kurdistan Region yearly is what is called "celebratory gunfire," where people shoot live rounds into the sky on special occasions.
Although officials say that deliberate harm caused to others is an important aspect to consider when passing such measures, another serious issue is the increased likelihood of self-inflicted injury, intentional or otherwise, in households that contain firearms.
Families storing guns in their homes are often urged to seek options for actively limiting easy access to weapons. Studies on these matters from Western countries show that this has proven a significant challenge, with children and those with suicidal urges left particularly vulnerable to being seriously injured or killed as a result of such access.
Editing by John J. Catherine