Chlorine bombs target Iraq

Explosions in western Iraq kill two and leave 350 civilians needing treatment.

    Civilians had to be treated for breathing difficulties after being exposed to chlorine gas [Reuters]

    In each attack, a suicide bomber detonated a vehicle packed with explosives and gas canisters near police and civilian targets in crowded areas.

     

    Contradictory toll

     

    The Iraqi state broadcaster put the toll at at least six people, but the US military has so far confirmed the deaths of only two Iraqi policemen in the second explosion, which occurred in Ameriyah, outside Falluja.

     

    Your Views

    "There may be times when preemptive warfare is necessary, but the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was not one of them."

    surfdog1958, Baton Rouge, USA

    Send us your views

    "Coalition forces confirmed that the Ameriyah citizens exposed to the chlorine were treated locally for symptoms ranging from minor skin and lung irritation to vomiting," Hollenbeck said in a statement.

     

    Brigadier-General Abdel Karim Khalaf, Iraqi interior ministry operations director, suggested the bombings may have been carried out in response to recent government operations against fighters in Ramadi.

     

    Fighters have modified their targets, adding gas bombs to their arsenal, after Iraqi and US forces recently launched a large-scale operation in and around the capital Baghdad to quell violence.

      

    There have been five "dirty bombings" since January 28 in the western Anbar province, with two similar bomb blasts reported in the capital Baghdad.

     

    New tactic

    The use of chlorine is a relatively new tactic. At best, exposure to the gas causes eye and lung irritation, at worst a victim's lungs dissolve from the inside.

    Its use is raising concerns of a style of warfare dating back to world war one when chlorine was used by the Germans. It caused panic among soldiers who were unprepared for gas warfare.

    So far, the devices in Iraq have caused widespread fear and a choking sickness, but not mass deaths.

    But experts say no sophisticated knowledge is needed to cause havoc with industrial chemical weapons.

    Chlorine is easily accessible in Iraq. It is used for water purification plants, bleaches and disinfectants.

    Chlorine canisters are loaded on to trucks with bombs. When the device goes off, the container is punctured and the chemical released.

    Instructions on making chlorine-based bombs can be found on the internet.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    The War in October: What Happened in 1973?

    The War in October: What Happened in 1973?

    Al Jazeera examines three weeks of war from which both Arabs and Israelis claimed to emerge victorious.