Kurdish youth 'roleplaying' PUBG accidentally kills friend with shotgun

A young Kurdish male on Friday accidentally killed one of his friends in Erbil Province when he pulled the trigger of a shotgun that, unbeknownst to him, was loaded.
author_image Kosar Nawzad

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A young Kurdish male on Friday accidentally killed one of his friends in Erbil Province when he pulled the trigger of a shotgun that, unbeknownst to him, was loaded.

The two young men were part of a group of six youths from the town of Pirmam picnicking at a nearby resort area outside Warte sub-district, local police told Kurdistan 24. While staying at a house belonging to one of their relatives, they found the firearm.

"As they were getting ready to return home, the youths said they should roleplay PUBG," Soran police spokesperson Sadoun Hawdiyani told Kurdistan 24. "And then, one of the friends asked another to hold the gun like PUBG and had someone else shoot a video."

PUBG, short for PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds, is an extremely popular online multiplayer game where dozens of players compete for the top spot, with sessions lasting up to an hour.  

Hawdiyani continued the story of the incident, as he said had been told. "All of them were unaware that the gun was loaded," he said, and after playing around with the shotgun for some time, "the one brandishing the weapon shot his friend, who died shortly after".

He added that the victim was a 22 year-old male named Aso Azad Mohammed. His five friends were all detained after the police learned of the incident and upon questioning, told the police that they were "roleplaying" the mobile game, which has been the cause of some previous controversy in the Kurdistan Region.

In late October, an Islamic religious authority in the Kurdistan Region ruled it "Haram" (forbidden) to play PUBG for more than "a few minutes" a day, or if playing it impedes a participant's daily responsibilities.

The decision came during a meeting between the members of the Fatwa Committee of Sulaimani, a city in the Kurdistan Region, after they had received complaints from family members or relatives of people reportedly "addicted" to playing the game and therefore causing familial disputes.

The police spokesperson said that the initial arrest of the five young men on Friday came on the basis of Article 205 of the Iraqi penal code. The article states that "Any person who willfully kills another is punishable by life imprisonment or imprisonment for a term of years," though there seemed to be no suspicion that the killing was in any way intentional at the time the official spoke to Kurdistan 24.

He called on all video game consumers to act responsibly, use the medium solely for entertainment purposes, and to stop acting out the violence depicted therein.

Editing by John J. Catherine

(Additional reporting by Kurdistan 24 correspondent Tayfour Mohammed)