No, A British Sniper Didn't Shoot the Trigger Switch On A Suicide Bomber's Vest

The U.K. Telegraph and many other media have published a story claiming that a British sniper shot the trigger switch attached to a Taliban suicide bomber’s bomb vest, setting off the bomb, and killing six Taliban.


A British sniper in Afghanistan killed six insurgents with a single bullet after hitting the trigger switch of a suicide bomber whose device then exploded, The Telegraph has learnt.

The 20-year-old marksman, a Lance Corporal in the Coldstream Guards, hit his target from 930 yards (850 metres) away, killing the suicide bomber and five others around him caught in the blast.

The incident in Kakaran in southern Afghanistan happened in December but has only now been disclosed as Britain moves towards the withdrawal of all combat soldiers by the end of the year.

It’s a cute story… but odds are that this isn’t what happened.

British Snipers sad to be in Basra, Iraq. Source: unknown
British snipers in Iraq. Source: Unknown

Outside of Hollywood, a shot to a detonator would shatter the detonator into non-functional pieces without triggering a detonation.

What is far more likely is that the suicide bomber used unstable pressure-sensitive peroxide-based explosives in his bomb vest, perhaps TATP (triacetone triperoxide).

TATP is readily made by relatively low-skilled bomb-makers, such as the terrorists that carried out the July 7th, 2005 London bombings that killed 52 and injured more than 200. TATP was nicknamed “Mother of Satan” by Palestinian bomb builders in the 1980s because of its tendency to prematurely explode, and it can easily be set off by contact, heat, and/or pressure… such as a bullet strike.


The sniper—who shot at the man because he was carrying a weapon, not because he could identify what the vest contained from more than 1/2 a mile away—didn’t know the man was a suicide bomber until after his shot turned the bomber and his five buddies turned into a pink mist.

That said, this was one heck of a shot, and I’m glad that he’s on our side.

930 yards against a moving target is far from easy, especially under the stress of combat. It probably shouldn’t be surprising that this “suicide sextet” wasn’t even this particular sniper’s longest kill. During a prior deployment he took down a Taliban fighter manning a machine gun 1,094 yards away.

Nicely done, Tommy.

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