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Suicide Bombings: Homicidal Killing or a Weapon of War?

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After an overview of the explanatory schemas of suicide bombing, the fastest growing form of terrorism in the world, this paper addresses a neglected but important question of whether the casualties of suicide bombings are homicidal killing or a weapon of war. The paper critically examines the distinction between war and terrorism and argues that both kill civilians and insert the coerciveness of precaution in the daily rhythm of social life. Using evidence from ethnographic studies on the nature of war and homicide, the paper concludes that suicide bombing attacks, because of the principle of substitutability which characterise war killing, could be regarded as a weapon of war. However, given that they are characterised by the wilful killing of civilians they could be regarded as ‘War Crimes’ under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Affiliations: 1: Flinders University


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