The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) aviation regulator has ordered an immediate halt of flights to Baghdad after a flydubai aircraft was hit by bullets on approach to the Iraqi capital’s airport.
The Boeing 737-800, operating FZ215 from Dubai to Baghdad Monday afternoon, was discovered after landing to have been hit by several rounds. The carrier said no medical attention was required by passengers, although some local news reports claims a young girl was grazed by a round passing through the fuselage.
A picture in a local newspaper purports to show a bullet hole in the port cabin wall and damage to an adjacent armrest.
A flydubai spokesperson said that, after landing, “damage to the aircraft fuselage consistent with small arms fire was discovered. All the passengers disembarked normally through the jet bridge. Passengers from Baghdad to Dubai were accommodated on a replacement aircraft. An investigation is underway to establish what happened.”
The spokesperson added that an engineering team was now in Baghdad to assess the damage. She was unable to give more information because of the ongoing investigation.
The airline’s daily Dubai-Baghdad service has been suspended until at least Sunday.
Etihad Airways said it had “suspended all flights to [Baghdad] with immediate effect and until further notice … to comply with the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority ban on operation to and from Baghdad on security grounds.”
A brief statement on Emirates Airways’ website said Emirates “has suspended its service to Baghdad until further notice due to operational reasons.”
The investigation will attempt to discover if the flydubai aircraft—said to have been at around 1,800 feet when it was hit—was deliberately targeted. Iraqi officials are said to have suggested the shots may have been fired in the air as celebrations at a wedding party, a common occurrence in parts of the Middle East.