Feuds: First blood

The concept of blowing yourself to bits to score a decisive hit against a much stronger opponent is about as old as gunpowder. During the Crusades, the Knights Templar destroyed one of their own ships, killing the 140-strong Christian crew, in order to kill 10 times as many Muslims. 

During the Belgian Revolution, Dutch Lieutenant Jan van Speijk blew up his own ship to prevent it being captured by the Belgians. 

Czar Alexander II of Russia was mortally wounded in 1881 by a grenade detonated in the hand of Polish revolutionary Ignacy Hryniewiecki. 

In World War II, Japanese kamikaze bombers introduced ritualised mass self-sacrifice during combat. 

Less well known is that the world’s first explosive-strapped suicide bombing – modern style – happened not in the Middle East, but in Murchison.