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Iraqi Kurdistan rife with unlicensed guns, gun violence

Though the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq is slowly waning, gun violence still riddles Iraq's Kurdistan Region where firearms are readily available and licensing is easily bypassed.
Machine guns are on display at an arms market in Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq on August 17, 2014. Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga forces backed by US air strikes retook the country's largest dam from jihadist militants who seized it the previous week, officials said. AFP PHOTO/SAFIN HAMED        (Photo credit should read SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images)
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ERBIL, Iraq — The young coach tried to calm his players as they argued with the referee who had sent off three of their teammates during a soccer game in the city of Sulaimaniyah on Saturday evening. As the row grew, some fans intervened and in the confusion, one could be heard shouting at Dyar Bakr's players, “I am going to bring my gun and shoot you!” A few minutes later, the man appeared with an M-4 assault rifle in his hands, and as Bakr ran to stop him, a bullet pierced his chest and another hit his leg. He died later on a hospital bed.

Bakr is just one of the latest casualties in the Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq, where an endless supply of firearms, booming local gun markets, inadequate regulations and worsening poverty due to an acute financial crisis mean firearms are being used on a massive scale to commit crimes and settle scores between citizens.

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