Explosive belt

(Redirected from Suicide vest)

An explosive belt (also called suicide belt or a suicide vest) is an improvised explosive device, a belt or a vest packed with explosives and armed with a detonator, worn by suicide bombers. Explosive belts are usually packed with ball bearings, nails, screws, bolts, and other objects that serve as shrapnel to maximize the number of casualties in the explosion.

Chinese suicide bomber putting on an explosive vest made out of Model 24 hand grenades to use in an attack on Japanese tanks at the Battle of Taierzhuang (1938)
A suicide vest captured by the Israel Defense Forces (2002)



The Chinese used explosive vests during the Second Sino-Japanese War.[1][2] A Chinese soldier detonated a grenade vest and killed 20 Japanese at Sihang Warehouse. Chinese troops strapped explosives like grenade packs or dynamite to their bodies and threw themselves over Japanese tanks to blow them up.[3] This tactic was used during the Battle of Shanghai, where a Chinese suicide bomber stopped a Japanese tank column by exploding himself beneath the lead tank,[4] and at the Battle of Taierzhuang, where Chinese troops rushed at Japanese tanks and blew themselves up with dynamite and grenades.[5][6][7][8][9] During one incident at Taierzhuang, Chinese suicide bombers destroyed four Japanese tanks with grenade bundles.[10][11]

The use of suicidal attacks to inflict damage upon an enemy predates the Second World War, in which Kamikaze units (suicidal air attacks) and Kaiten ("living torpedoes") were used to attack Allied forces. Japanese soldiers routinely detonated themselves by attacking Allied tanks while carrying antitank mines, magnetic demolition charges, hand grenades and other explosive devices.


A suicide belt captured by the Israel Defense Forces (2006)

The explosive belt usually consists of several cylinders filled with explosive (de facto pipe bombs), or in more sophisticated versions with plates of explosive. The explosive is surrounded by a fragmentation jacket that produces the shrapnel responsible for most of the bomb's lethality, effectively making the jacket a crude, body-worn, Claymore mine. Once the vest is detonated, the explosion resembles an omnidirectional shotgun blast. The most dangerous and the most widely used shrapnel are steel balls 3–7 mm (18932 in) in diameter.[12] Other shrapnel material can be anything of suitable size and hardness, most often nails, screws, nuts, and thick wire. Shrapnel is responsible for about 90% of all casualties caused by this kind of device.

A "loaded" vest may weigh between 5 and 20 kilograms (10 and 45 lb) and may be hidden under thick clothes, usually jackets or snow coats.

A suicide vest may cover the entire stomach and usually has shoulder straps.

A common security procedure against suspected suicide bombers is to move the suspect at least 15 metres (50 ft) away from other people, then ask them to remove their upper clothing. While this procedure is relatively uncontroversial for use on males, it may cause an issue when dealing with females suspected of being suicide bombers. Male security personnel may be reluctant to inspect or strip-search females, and can be accused of sexual harassment after having done so.[13] Alternatively, an infrared detector can be used. There are assertions that using a millimeter wave scanner would be viable for the task, but the concept has been disputed.

The discovery of remains as well as incidentally unexploded belts or vests can offer forensic clues to the investigation after the attack.[14]

Forensic investigation


Suicide bombers who wear the vests are often obliterated by the explosion; the best evidence of their identity is the head, which often remains relatively intact because it is separated and thrown clear off the body by the explosion. Journalist Joby Warrick conjectured: "The vest's tight constraints and the positioning of the explosive pouches would channel the energy of the blast outward, toward whoever stood directly in front of him. Some of that energy wave would inevitably roll upward, ripping the bomber's body apart at its weakest point, between the neck bones and lower jaw. It accounts for the curious phenomenon in which suicide bombers' heads are severed clean at the moment of detonation and are later found in a state of perfect preservation several metres away from the torso's shredded remains."[15]


  1. ^ 网易. "台儿庄巷战:长官电令有敢退过河者 杀无赦_网易军事" [Taierzhuang Street Fight: The Chief Executive Order has the courage to retreat to the river]. war.163.com (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 2018-06-19.
  2. ^ Wong, Bun. "Taierzhuang street fighting : Executive power to make those who have dared to retreat across the river Unforgiven - Netease International News". Archived from the original on 2017-10-20.
  3. ^ Schaedler, Luc (2007). Angry Monk: Reflections on Tibet: Literary, Historical, and Oral Sources for a Documentary Film (PDF) (Thesis Presented to the Faculty of Arts of the University of Zurich For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy). University of Zurich, Faculty of Arts. p. 518. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-07-19. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  4. ^ Harmsen, Peter (2013). Shanghai 1937: Stalingrad on the Yangtze (illustrated ed.). Casemate. p. 112. ISBN 978-1612001678. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  5. ^ "Chinese Tank Forces and Battles before 1949". TANKS! E-Magazine (#4). Summer 2001. Archived from the original on 7 August 2014. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  6. ^ Xin Hui (August 1, 2002). "Xinhui Presents: Chinese Tank Forces and Battles before 1949". Newsletter 1-8-2002 Articles. Archived from the original on 2014-08-08. Retrieved 2014-08-02.
  7. ^ Ong, Siew Chey (2005). China Condensed: 5000 Years of History & Culture (illustrated ed.). Marshall Cavendish. p. 94. ISBN 9812610677. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  8. ^ Olsen, Lance (2012). Taierzhuang 1938 – Stalingrad 1942. Clear Mind Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9838435-9-7. Archived from the original on 26 April 2014. Retrieved 24 April 2014. {{cite book}}: |website= ignored (help)
  9. ^ Dr Ong Siew Chey (2011). China Condensed: 5,000 Years of History & Culture (reprint ed.). Marshall Cavendish International Asia Pte Ltd. p. 79. ISBN 978-9814312998. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
  10. ^ International Press Correspondence, Volume 18. Richard Neumann. 1938. p. 447. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  11. ^ Epstein, Israel (1939). The people's war. V. Gollancz. p. 172. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  12. ^ "What is Shrapnel?". NBC News.
  13. ^ Niiler, Eric (Jan 22, 2014). "Sochi Suicide Bomber Threat: Why Terrorists Use Women". Discovery.net. Discovery Communications. Archived from the original on 2015-11-25. Retrieved 2014-04-27.
  14. ^ AFP/NEWSCORE "Ugandan police find suicide vest, hunts suspects". July 13, 2010, New York Post. Retrieved ?
  15. ^ Joby Warrick (2012). The Triple Agent: The Al-Qaeda Mole Who Infiltrated the CIA. Vintage Books. p. 151. ISBN 978-0-307-74231-5.