The nail bomb is an anti-personnel explosive device packed with nails to increase its effectiveness at harming victims. The nails act as shrapnel, leading almost certainly to greater loss of life or injury in inhabited areas than the explosives alone would. The nail bomb is also a type of flechette weapon. Such weapons use bits of shrapnel (steel balls, nail heads, screws, needles, broken razors, darts and bits of metal) to create a larger radius of destruction.
Nail bombs are often used by terrorists, including suicide bombers, since they cause larger numbers of casualties when detonated in crowded places. Nail bombs can be detected by electromagnetic sensors and standard metal detectors.
- On 6 March 1970, in the Greenwich Village townhouse explosion, three members of the Weather Underground were killed in the accidental explosion of a nail bomb intended to be set off at a non-commissioned officers dance at the Fort Dix, New Jersey Army base.
- A number of nail bombings occurred during The Troubles in Northern Ireland, either by Republicans or Loyalists.
- American Mafia figure Philip Testa was killed by a nail bomb in Philadelphia in 1981.
- In 1989, football hooligans threw nail bombs at supporters of a rival club in the Netherlands.
- A number of nail-bombings occurred in 1999 when the neo-Nazi David Copeland planted several devices in London targeted against ethnic minorities and LGBT people.
- On 11 October 2002 in Myyrmanni, Finland, a 19-year-old named Petri Gerdt committed a suicide bombing in a local mall. Seven people died including Gerdt, and 167 were injured.
- On 9 June 2004, a nail bomb was detonated in Cologne, Germany, by the Nazi terrorist group National Socialist Underground (Nationalsozialistischer Untergrund) in a popular Turkish shopping quarter called "Little Istanbul", wounding 22 people and damaging several shops and parked cars. According to the magazine Der Spiegel the Nazi group claimed responsibility for the attack in a DVD found in the ruins of a house in Zwickau (D) that exploded on 4 November 2011.
- On 31 December 2005, an Indonesian marketplace was nail-bombed, and a second undetonated bomb was found nearby.
- On 28 June 2007, a nail bomb that was assumed to be a part of a terror plot was discovered in a Mercedes car and was consequently defused by police in the West End of London. There was a second car bomb, further down the street that was apparently scheduled to detonate as evacuees and survivors fled down the street, to a nearby tube station. It is probable this bomb was also a nail/shrapnel device.
- On 21 December 2007, a nail bomb was detonated in Sherpao, Pakistan by a suicide bomber. Detonation occurred inside a tightly packed mosque, filled with holiday worshippers. At least 50 people were killed, with over 100 injured.
- In the 22 May 2008 Exeter bombing, a nail bomb explosive was detonated in the toilets of Giraffe café in the Princesshay Shopping Centre in Exeter, Devon. The homemade bomb exploded in the attacker's face as he was trying to arm it in the café toilet. Police then found another nail bomb inside the café after everybody had been evacuated.
2010 and later
- On 11 April 2011, a nail bomb was detonated in Minsk, Belarus. 15 people were killed and 204 people were injured.
- During the 2011 Syrian uprising, security forces have been reported to have used nail bombs against crowds of protesters.
- On 15 April 2013, pressure cooker bombs filled with bits of metal, nails, and ball bearings were used in the Boston Marathon bombing.
- On 22 March 2016, nail bombs were used by ISIL during the terrorist attacks on Brussels Airport, Zaventem and the metro station in Maelbeek.
- On 24 September 2016, a nail bomb was detonated in Budapest, Hungary. Two policemen were injured in the attack.
- On 22 May 2017, a nail-bomb attack occurred at the Manchester Arena where American singer Ariana Grande was performing. The total number of people killed was 22 and 250 were injured. Among the 22 dead were children, including one who was 8 years old.
- On 17 October 2018, Vladislav Roslyakov killed 20 people using nail bombs and a pump action shotgun in the Kerch Polytechnic College attack.
Use in art
Salvador Dalí used nail bombs in art.
- Robinson, Douglas (12 March 1970). "Miss Wilkerson's Parents Make Plea For Her to Clarify Toll in Bombing". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 December 2007.
The parents of a 25-year-old woman missing from a demolished Greenwich Village home where the police said a militant left-wing group was fashioning bombs made an impassioned plea to their daughter yesterday to disclose how many people were in the building at the time of the blast.
- "David Copeland: a quiet introvert, obsessed with Hitler and bombs" by Nick Hopkins and Sarah Hall, The Guardian, June 30, 2000
- Lyall, Sarah (16 October 2002). "Teenager Held In Bombing That Killed 7 At Finnish Mall". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
- "Braune Zelle Zwickau: Neonazi-Terroristen hinterließen Geständnis auf DVD", Der Spiegel, November 12, 2011
- Gardham, Duncan (16 October 2008). "Muslim convert Nicky Reilly pleads guilty to Exeter Giraffe restaurant bomb attempt". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 19 May 2010.
- "Syrian security forces resort to nail bombs". The Daily Telegraph. London. 30 December 2011. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- McLaughlin, Tim; Herbst-Bayliss, Svea (17 April 2013). "Boston bomb suspect spotted on video, no arrest made". Reuters. Retrieved 17 April 2013.
- "Spijkerbom gebruikt in Zaventem" (in Dutch). Het Nieuwsblad. 22 March 2016. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
- "Teréz körút: muszlim terroristáról szó sincs" (in Hungarian).
- "At least 22 killed, 120 injured in suicide attack at Manchester Arena. The Guardian (London). Published 23 May 2017. Retrieved 23 May 2017.