The cluster bomb: How it works

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The Independent Online

Britain dropped around 70 RBL755 cluster bombs around Baghdad. The bombs each contain 147 BL755 bomblets, which could devastate an area roughly the size of four football pitches, meaning Britain dropped 10,290 bomblets in total.

Each bomblet contains 100 grammes of high explosive, wrapped in a coil of 2,000 pieces of shrapnel. Simon Conway, acting director of Landmine Action and a landmine clearance expert said: "The BL755 sub-munition bomblet is one of the nastiest munitions I have ever cleared. The effects are blast, shrapnel, molten metal and fire. It would fit in your hand."

Estimates suggest a failure rate of anything between five per cent and 12 per cent, although campaigners claim the true figure could be as high as 30 per cent. UK forces also fired around 2,000 of the 155 mm l20A1 extended range bomblet shells.

The Israeli-made shells contain 49 M85 sub-munition bomblets. Bomblets from a single L20 shell will devastate an area the size of two football pitches.