Lebanese footballer Mohamed Atwi, 32, has died following severe head injuries caused by a stray bullet at a funeral. The Lebanese international midfielder was attending the funeral of a firefighter, who was killed during the Beirut port explosion. The explosion at Beirut port caused devastation across the country’s capital, with 200 people dead and damage estimated to be worth $10 billion. In the Middle East, firing automatic rounds into the air at weddings and funerals is a common practice. According to initial investigations, the bullet is said to have been fired at the funeral of Joe Bou Saab, a firefighter who was part of the initial team investigating the fire that led to the explosion.
Despite a successful operation to stem the bleeding on his brain, Atwi succumbed to his injuries shortly after being shot. Having won three caps for the Lebanese national team, Atwi played for Akhaa Ahli Aley. The club released a statement on their website, commemorating the midfielder: “With much sorrow and sadness, the management of Al-Ansar FC mourns one of its sons, the player Mohammed Atwi. He had been with Al-Ansar FC during the height of his career, winning three national titles. This is a loss not only to his family, but to Al-Ansar Club, for what he represents in the hearts of its supporters, who knew him as a leader on the field, and the modest character that won him many friends.”
Following the injury he sustained at the funeral, protestors gathered outside the hospital where he was being treated. Their demands included calls for an end to the practice of firing live rounds at weddings and funerals. Also, the footballer’s family have made pleas for an investigation into his death. However, until the time of writing, no arrests have been made in connection to the incident.