ISAF report two children and two Afghan National Army personnel killed and others injured when “the Taliban used a young teenager as a suicide bomber.”

The theme of exploitation of ‘suicide bombers’ is a significant one. Whether they be the young or people with mental disabilities, such exploitation and/or its representation has potential to undermine the element of ‘self-sacrifice’ that is often intertwined with the concept of suicide bombing.

An Afghan doctor has previously been reported as suggesting that a large proportion of ‘suicide’ bombers in the country were ill or disabled – however, it is unclear whether this could be backed up with data.That report, rather than framing this solely as exploitation, posits that disgruntlement with the marginalisation experienced by people with disabilities might be a motivating factor. Other reports have also pointed to this possibility, coupled with the use of financial incentives.

The ‘exploitation’ of children as bombers has also been reported elsewhere – particularly noting the use of teenagers.

Elsewhere, major bomb attacks in Iraq on 1 February 08 were reportedly undertaken by female bombers who were “mentally handicapped”. This Washington Post report quotes other sources speculating that the bombers may have had Down’s syndrome and also been young.

The prime suspect in the 22 May 08 failed bombing in Exeter, UK, had also reportedly been “mentally ill.”

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