Animal-borne bomb attacks

Animal-borne bomb attacks are the use of animals as delivery systems for explosives. The explosives are strapped to a pack animal such as a horse, mule or donkey. The pack animal may be set off in a crowd.

Projects of bat bombs and pigeon bomb have also been studied.



In 2009, the Taliban strapped an improvised explosive device to a donkey. The gate guard noticed something suspicious when a group of men let the donkey go a short way from the camp and then hurried off. The donkey was stopped with a rifle shot. One soldier set fire to the hay with a flare provoking a "considerable explosion".[1][2]

In April 2013, in Kabul, a bomb attached to a donkey blew up in front of a police security post, killing a policeman and wounding three civilians. A government spokesman claimed insurgents were challenging the competence of the Afghan government prior to the 2014 withdrawal of the U.S. military.[3]


On 21 November 2003, eight rockets were fired from donkey carts at the Iraqi oil ministry and two hotels in downtown Baghdad, injuring one man and causing some damage.[4] In 2004 a donkey in Ramadi was loaded with explosives and set off towards a US-run checkpoint. It exploded before it was able to injure or kill anyone. The incident, along with a number of similar incidents involving dogs, fueled fears of terrorist practices of using living animals as weapons, a change from an older practice of using the bodies of dead animals to hold explosives.[5] The use of improvised explosive devices concealed in animal's carcasses was also a common practice among the Iraqi Insurgency.[6]


Malia Sufangi, a young Lebanese woman, was caught in the Security Zone in November 1985 with an explosive device mounted on a donkey with which she had failed to carry out an attack.[7] She claimed that she had been recruited and dispatched by Syrian Brigadier-General Ghazi Kanaan who supplied the explosives and instructions on how the attack was to be carried out from his headquarters in the town of Anjer in the Bekaa Valley.[7]

United States

In 1862, during the New Mexico Campaign of the American Civil War a Confederate force approached the ford at Valverde, six miles north of Fort Craig, hoping to cut Union communications between the fort and their headquarters in Santa Fe. About midnight, Union Captain James Craydon tried to blow up a few rebel picket posts by sending mules loaded with barrels of fused gunpowder into the Confederate lines, but the faithful old army mules insisted on wandering back toward the Union camp before blowing to bits. Although the only casualties were two mules, the explosions stampeded a herd of Confederate beef cattle and horses into the Union's lines, so depriving the Confederate troops of some much-needed provisions and horses.[8]

In the Wall Street bombing of 1920, an incident thought to be related to the 1919 United States anarchist bombings, anarchists used a bomb carried by horse-drawn cart.

West Bank and Gaza Strip


During World War II the U.S. investigated the use of "bat bombs", or bats carrying small incendiary bombs.[18] During the same war, Project Pigeon (later Project Orcon, for "organic control") was American behaviorist B. F. Skinner's attempt to develop a pigeon-guided missile.[19][20] At the same time the Soviet Union developed the "anti-tank dog" for use against German tanks.[21] Iran purchased several dolphins, some of which were former Soviet military dolphins, along with other sea mammals and birds, in what some have alleged to be an attempt by Iran to develop kamikaze dolphins, intended to seek out and destroy submarines and enemy warships.[22] However, the animals are today on display at the Kish Dolphin Park, on Iran's resort island of Kish in the Persian Gulf.

See also


  1. "Donkey ‘suicide’ bombing is latest tactic against patrols, Michael Evans, April 30, 2009, The Times of London.
  2. Bomb attached to donkey kills policeman in eastern Afghanistan, April 5, 2013, Fox News / Associated Press.
  3. Rockets slam into Iraq's Oil Ministry, two hotels Associated Press, 21 November 2011
  4. Dogs of war can be friend or foe August 12, 2005. The Standard (originally from The Los Angeles Times)
  5. Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) – Iraq
  6. 1 2 "Syria and Terrorism, Boaz Ganor, 15 November 1991, JCPA.
  7. Kerby 1958,1995, pp. 66–67.
  8. Suicide bomber explodes donkey cart near Khan Yunis, 3 soldiers hurt, Jerusalem Post 26-06-1995
  9. Fragile Mideast cease-fire endures another day, CNN 17-06-2001
  10. 'We're stunt queens. We have to be', The Guardian 24-02-2006
  11. Mother nature (part one), The Guardian 22-06-2003
  12. Militants, bomb-laden horses die in Gaza clash, AP 08-06-2009
  13. Gaza gunmen use booby-trapped horses against IDF, Ynet News 08-06-2009
  14. Donkey bomb claims only the donkey, AP 25-05-2010
  15.,7340,L-3893975,00.html, Ynet News 25-05-2010
  16. The Bat Bombers, C. V. Glines, Journal of the Airforce Association, October 1990, Vol. 73, No. 10 (accessed November 17, 2006)
  17. Skinner, B. F. (1960). Pigeons in a pelican. American Psychologist, 15, 28–37. Reprinted in: Skinner, B. F. (1972). Cumulative record (3rd ed.). New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, pp. 574–591.
  18. Described throughout Skinner, B. F. (1979). The shaping of a behaviorist: Part two of an autobiography. New York: Knopf.
  19. Dog Anti-Tank Mine, (accessed November 17, 2006)
  20. Iran buys kamikaze dolphins, BBC News, Wednesday, 8 March 2000, 16:45 GMT
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