Use of toxic chemicals in suicide bombs new worry

October 22, 2013

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The Taliban-made bombs produce carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, which damage the oxygen-binding capacity of the survivors of their attacks. -File Photo
The Taliban-made bombs produce carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, which damage the oxygen-binding capacity of the survivors of their attacks. -File Photo

PESHAWAR: The Taliban are now using more toxic chemicals in their explosive devices to inflict lethal injuries on the survivors of their bomb and suicide attacks, according to officials.

Quoting the relevant doctors, they said that the people who sustained injuries in Taliban attacks developed complications due to presence of toxins in the explosives.

Survivors of the Taliban’s bombs suffer from chronic wounds that leave scars on skin and don’t respond to antibiotics with proven efficacy in other surgical infections.

Officials said that the explosives used by the Taliban left lasting effects on the injured people.

“Taliban have now mastered the science of manufacturing bombs that cause more than the intended casualties as they are imparted training regarding use of potassium, nitrogen, sugar, urea and glycerine etc in the bombs,” they said.

The officials said that terrorists used phosphorus in explosives that destroyed human cells. The Taliban-made bombs produced carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, which damaged the oxygen-binding capacity of the survivors.

“The survivors may go into coma and end up dying due to stoppage of the oxygen-carrying process of victims when smoke caused by the explosives penetrates their bodies,” they added.

The officials said that the explosives used by the Taliban in all attacks were pale, white or yellowish in colour, which meant that their source was the same.

“Not only healing of wounds caused by the Taliban bombs is hard but the survivors often develop contractures and other physical deformities due to injuries,” they added.

The forensic experts at health and police departments said that even deep wounds caused by gunshots or knives were treatable but the people injured in Taliban attacks had to live with lifelong deformities after recovery.

“The use of toxins in bombs worsens injuries that are not curable,” they said.

Experts said that easy availability of raw materials for bombs like magnesium, potassium and sodium made the task of the Taliban easy.

Even the survivors of bomb attacks with 10 per cent injuries die ultimately because the wounds become septic.

Officials said that the Taliban manufactured bombs locally. “The Taliban don’t manufacture bomb and explosives in North and South Waziristan agencies where they are based. They have the capability to manufacture bombs close to the area where these can be used. Transportation of explosives through long routes can make the Taliban vulnerable to being arrested by police,” they said.

The official said that the Taliban’s main source of making explosives was fertilisers in the market. “They have circulated booklets in Pashto, Urdu and Persian about bomb making,” they added. One of the manuals listed the equipment needed to build a bomb factory, they said.

Officials said that the Taliban had been attacking government forces besides targeting marketplaces, CD and music shops and internet cafes and schools using their own explosives.

The health experts said that the only chance to reduce the quantum of physical injuries to the victims was to rush them immediately to hospitals to clean their wounds.

“These bombs and explosives weren’t as deadly eight years ago when all this began, as these are today,” they said.