Different groups are using stun grenades to frighten locals in Basra. Sometimes for religious reasons, other times because of political or criminal grudges.
For some time now locals in the southern city of Basra have been woken by random explosions. Stun grenades, as they are known, make very loud noises but cause little physical damage and are being set off by unknown assailants at night. In the morning, the people of Basra find out who was targeted this time.
“We know that our neighbours sell alcohol and that in the past they have been threatened by religious extremists,” one man, Ahmad Jabr, a nurse living in central Basra, told NIQASH about the latest stun grenade in his area. “But they continued to sell alcohol in secret. One night, just before midnight, there was a huge explosion and our house shook. My family and I went to a secure room in the house, all the windows broke.”
The stun grenade had targeted his neighbour’s place. “Thank God, nobody was hurt,” Jabr continues. “But my children couldn’t hear for a while and my neighbour’s house and car were badly damaged.”
Neither Jabr or his neighbours know who was responsible. All they know is that the assailants drove by on a motorcycle, threw the grenade and then raced off.
Stun grenades appear to be being used increasingly by various parties to intimidate and frighten locals, for both political and religious reasons.
In February this year, they have also been used to target shops where popular music is being sold or where bands play. In these cases the motivations may well be religious: Some of the more extremist religious militias in Basra have said that the playing of music and singing should be banned. On some streets there are banners prohibiting singing.