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Teenager killed by celebratory bullets fired after cricket victory

Bullets shot into the air are still deadly.

Image: AP/Press Association Images

CELEBRATORY GUNFIRE KILLED a teenage boy in southern Afghanistan following the national cricket team’s victory against Zimbabwe.

Thousands of jubilant fans danced in the streets and fired into the air in cities and towns across the country as Afghanistan defeated Zimbabwe to take the series 3-2 on Wednesday, pushing the team into the top 10 for one-day international rankings.

A hospital official in Helmand’s provincial capital Lashkar Gah said that a teenager “believed to be around 17 or 18 was killed in the celebratory gunfire”.

Kabul police spokesman Abdul Basir Mujahid told AFP yesterday that at least three people were wounded and that officials had arrested 35 people in connection with celebratory gunfire across the capital since the win.

Firing guns into the air is a traditional – but dangerous – Afghan gesture of celebration, and President Ashraf Ghani had asked fans in a video message not to fete the team’s historic victory with weapons as he congratulated the nation on the series win.

It is Afghanistan’s second successive series triumph over Zimbabwe after winning in Africa in October.

The country’s cricket side has progressed rapidly since emerging from Taliban rule in 2001.

Sport was rarely played under the Taliban, and the football stadium in Kabul was a notorious venue for executions, stonings and mutilations.

Tens of thousands of Afghans learnt cricket in refugee camps in Pakistan after they were forced to flee during the decades of war and turmoil that followed the Soviet invasion in 1979.

Cricket boomed after the Taliban era as many Afghans returned. The game is now played on any piece of open ground, ranging from scruffy city parks to rural roads, with boys often using discarded pieces of wood for bats and wickets.

- © AFP, 2016

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