Suicide attack in Dagestan

Around 30 people were injured late on Friday in the Dagestani capital of Makhachkala. A male suicide attacker approached a police cordon close to a house where security forces had earlier had a firefight with suspected militants. Around 20 of the wounded were police officers; reportedly the bomber:

“attempted to break through a police cordon, but he was stopped by a policeman and set off the bomb”.

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Dagestan attack

The NYT reports that two suicide bombers struck in the Russian province of Dagestan at about 0830 local time this morning. The first attacker detonated his explosives when his car was pulled over at a police checkpoint in the town of Kizlyar (its not clear from the report if this was a VBIED or simply a suicide belt/vest that happened to be in a car). The BBC reports that the attack took place outside a security headquarters building. About 35 minutes after the initial blast, a second foot-borne bomber, disguised as a police officer detonated himself among the crowd of police and emergency personnel who had responded to the initial blast, killing among others, the local police chief. The attacks killed nine, mostly police officers, and injured another 18.

This style of attack is sometimes known as a ‘come-on’, whereby an initial incident is created in order to generate a response from the security forces. Once first responders arrive, they are then targeted by a second attack. This is a fairly common tactic, and has been used by groups around the world. Such incidents, using suicide attackers, have been quite frequent tin Iraq and Pakistan. I don’t recall a previous incident where this approach has been used in Dagestan/Checnyna before, so this might represent an evolution in the use of suicide tactics there. The use of a second bomber in police uniform also suggests a notable degree of planning and preparation.

Meanwhile, back in Moscow, the authorities have released images of the women they believe to have been responsible for Monday’s attacks. There are claims that prior to the attacks, women thought to be from the Caucasus were being stopped and searched by police, suggesting there may have been some intelligence warning on the bombings. Also the Russian paper Kommersant reports that the two women may have arrived in Moscow on a coach.

He believes everything he reads..

Just when you think the British tabloid press can’t any worse, The Sun goes and surpasses itself. In a recent ‘story’ entitled ‘Radicals’ deadly booby trap’ (can you see what they did there?) the Sun claimed that ‘radical doctors’, who of course had been trained in London teaching hospitals, had pioneered a new technique of concealing explosives in female suicide attacker’s breasts and in the buttocks of male suicide attackers. This was apparently with the intent of bypassing airport security scanners. The claims are likely a fanciful evolution of the so-called ‘butt-bomber’ incident (mentioned in this earlier post), where an individual attempted to kill a Saudi security minister with an explosive device claimed to be have been concealed rectally. In the event, the bomber managed only to kill himself and make an awful mess of the prince’s lounge, despite standing right beside the target when the device was detonated. Personally I think it highly likely that the device was in fact hidden in the bomber’s underwear, similar to the attempt by a Nigerian student to bring an airliner during Christmas 2009. Such outlandish claims of surgically implanted explosives have been seen before,  and even if such an attempt was feasible, it has been pointed out that concealing  explosives inside the human body render it fairly ineffective, as the carrier’s body absorbs a good deal of the blast.

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Suicide Watch #3

A regular round-up of suicide attack related news around the globe.200909160858.jpg

28 September

Iraq: A suicide VBIED (a tanker truck) was used to attack a police outpost in Ramadi, killing at least seven.

Pakistan: Gul Hakim, a tribal elder and leader of a local anti-Taliabn militia, was killed along with three companions when a foot-borne suicide attacker blew himself up by their car in the Bakahel area of north-west Pakistan.

26 September

Pakistan: Two suicide attacks occurred in the north-west. The first, a VBIED targeting a police station killed six in the town of Bannu. The second attack, in a commercial area of the city of Peshawar, killed ten and injured dozens more.

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