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    Celebratory gunfire kills Filipino girl

    MANILA — A 7-year-old girl died Wednesday after being hit in the head by a stray bullet during New Year’s Eve revelry in the Philippines, heightening calls to halt one of Asia’s most violent celebrations of the new year.

    Stephanie Nicole Ella was watching fireworks with her family in their working-class neighborhood in Caloocan City, in suburban Manila, when she suddenly collapsed, blood spurting from her head. As she fought for her life in a government hospital, watched by her stunned parents, extensive media coverage of her ordeal turned her into a symbol of widespread concern over the violent celebrations.

    Nearly 700 people were injured by fireworks and celebratory gunfire in the days leading to the new year, despite government warnings and a crackdown on prohibited firecrackers and gun firing. A boy died when he was accidentally shot in the back with a homemade shotgun by an intoxicated man in Mandaluyong City at the height of New Year’s revelry, police said, adding a suspect has been arrested.