Iraq has just defeated North Korea, 1-0, to advance to the quarterfinals of the Asian Cup of Nations soccer tournament. Baghdad was riveted to the match, but even if you weren't watching, you'd have known instantly that Iraq prevailed when the sound of celebratory gunfire and fireworks pierced the cold air.
Perhaps I should take it as a happy sign that the loudest booms one tends to hear in Baghdad these days are at the end of victorious soccer matches. But the soccer-crazed Iraqi fans' peculiar ritual unfortunately is no laughing matter. Three nights ago, when Iraq beat UAE, three people were killed in Diyala province in celebratory gunfire, which has become such a scourge that the Health Ministry has asked officials to ban the practice.
So just what does 'celebratory fire' sound like? I stepped outside our offices in central Baghdad tonight to record a bit of the excitement. Have a listen.