Thursday, May 28, 2009

British bombs

From the Guardian:

MoD admits use of controversial 'enhanced blast' weapons in Afghanistan
The Guardian (UK)
By Richard Norton-Taylor

MAY 28 - British pilots in Afghanistan are firing an increasing number of "enhanced blast" thermobaric weapons, designed to kill everyone in buildings they strike, the Ministry of Defence has revealed.

Since the start of this year more than 20 of the US-designed missiles, which have what is officially described as a "blast fragmentation warhead", have been fired by pilots of British Apache attack helicopters. A total of 20 were also fired last year after they were bought by the MoD from the Americans last May...

The missile's warhead is made with a mixture of chemicals rather than a simple blast mechanism...

US forces have deployed the missiles in Iraq as well as Afghanistan... (link)
Here's what Amnesty International says about these weapons:
[Vaccum bombs] are a type of thermobaric weapon, also called fuel air explosives. This type of weapon introduces an aerosol cloud of volatile gases in the target area, which is then ignited to create a fireball that sucks air out of the atmosphere and produces lethal effects, such as severe burns and lung collapse, to individuals in the target area. Like all weapons of modern warfare they pose a danger to civilians and could be used in indiscriminate or other unlawful attacks. Their great destructive potential raises concerns that they are more likely to result in indiscriminate killing.

An example of the horrific toll on civilians of such weapons came in 1982, during the Israeli army’s siege of Beirut. The Israeli air force dropped a vacuum bomb on an apartment block in which they believed PLO leader Yasser Arafat was hiding. Around 200 people were reported to have been killed... (link)

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