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At the end of Mockingjay (both the book and the part 2 movie)

a hovercraft drops a bunch of parachutes into a group of children and some blow up. Then, after the rebel medics come in, the rest of the parachutes blow up.

In both the novel and the movie, it's never stated definitively who is responsible for that happening. The assumption is that

President Coin was responsible.

However, I have my doubts. For example

those parachute bombs would have needed to be prepared ahead of time, but gathering the capitol citizens as human shields around the presidential mansion only happened shortly before the parachutes were dropped. Also, one of the reasons why Katniss believes it is Coin is that Snow claimed to not be responsible. How do we know Snow isn't just lying about it?

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It is heavily implied to be Coin.

When Snow suggests that Coin was responsible, and Katniss begins to mull it over, we get arguments that Snow has neither the motive nor the means to conduct such an attack. Coin and the rebels have both.

  • When Katniss meets Snow, and he plants the idea that it was Coin who dropped the bombs, not him, he argues that dropping bombs on the children doesn’t fit his MO:

    What he's said makes no sense. When they released the parachutes? "Well, you really didn't think I gave the order, did you? Forget the obvious fact that if I'd had a working hovercraft at my disposal, I'd have been using it to make an escape. But that aside, what purpose could it have served? We both know I'm not above killing children, but I'm not wasteful. I take life for very specific reasons. And there was no reason for me to destroy a pen full of Capitol children. None at all."

    By contrast, he provides a very plausible motive for Coin:

    “I must concede it was a masterful move on Coin's part. The idea that I was bombing our own helpless children instantly snapped whatever frail allegiance my people still felt to me. There was no real resistance after that. Did you know it aired live? You can see Plutarch's hand there. And in the parachutes. Well, it's that sort of thinking that you look for in a Head Gamemaker, isn't it?” Snow dabs the corners of his mouth. “I'm sure he wasn't gunning for your sister, but these things happen.”

    (I think he’s being disingenuous with the last sentence. If it was Coin, she was definitely gunning for Prim – the point of this exercise was to compromise Katniss’s ability to lead the rebels, and get her squarely behind Coin.)

  • Naturally, Katniss is as sceptical as you:

    I refuse for this to be true. Some things even I can't survive. I utter my first words since my sister's death. “I don't believe you.”

    Snow shakes his head in mock disappointment. “Oh, my dear Miss Everdeen. I thought we had agreed not to lie to each other.”

    Of course, Snow could still be lying. But he’s already lost his presidency, and there’s a death sentence on his head. There’s very little to gain by continuing to lie (and if he is lying, evidence would eventually be found to the contrary).

  • When she leaves the meeting, Katniss is still sceptical, but is coming around to the idea that the rebels might be responsible:

    Then what's nagging at me? Those double-exploding bombs, for one. It's not that the Capitol couldn't have the same weapon, it's just that I'm sure the rebels did. Gale and Beetee's brainchild. Then there's the fact that Snow made no escape attempt, when I know him to be the consummate survivor. It seems hard to believe he didn't have a retreat somewhere, some bunker stocked with provisions where he could live out the rest of his snaky little life. And finally, there's his assessment of Coin. What's irrefutable is that she's done exactly what he said. Let the Capitol and the districts run one another into the ground and then sauntered in to take power. Even if that was her plan, it doesn't mean she dropped those parachutes. Victory was already in her grasp. Everything was in her grasp.

    We know the rebels had such bombs, and presumably had an aircraft loaded with them, ready to use against Capitol soldiers. They probably weren’t loaded with the intention of killing the Capitol children, but when the opportunity presented itself, they were ready and waiting.

    It’s possible that the Capitol had indeed built similar weapons, and stockpiled them before the attack. But the Capitol never used them – why? It seems more likely that they didn’t have any.

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    Don't forget that Beetee and Gale were discussing this exact strategy. It's implied that Gale didn't know that Coin would employ it against children, but he did tell Beetee how to do it. This is still only circumstantial evidence that Coin was involved. – Lucien Stals Jan 18 '16 at 3:25
  • "evidence would eventually be found to the contrary" indicating that Snow did it whether or not Snow did it. There will never be any trustworthy proof in universe. – kaine Jan 21 '16 at 20:58
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    Gale was also as guilty as sin when Katniss asked him if he knew - or something very close to that – Cearon O'Flynn Feb 27 '17 at 16:56
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    @LucienStals but the question is: how did Coin get her hands on a capitol ship, and also why did snow not open the gates right away, and why did he make everyone give their children forward? Could he have been anticipating the attack from snoW? It doesn't really make sense: why did snow "invite" everyone to his house and not open the doors right away? He said he has no motive to kill the children, but he was probably just trying to convince Katniss to kill Coin as his last act of humor, as he ws laughing histarically at the end, as if he'd one, what do u think? – bluejayke Oct 23 '18 at 9:46
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It was Alma Coin who ordered it. She wanted to make sure that Katniss kept working with them against the president, so she killed Prim and made it look like it was Snow's fault to fuel Katniss's hate.

No reference for this, since I don't have the book here and didn't find anything, so if anyone can provide one, go for it.

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    There isn't a reference, but it is heavily implied. – Möoz Jan 19 '16 at 4:20
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I think the book and movie heavily imply that Coin dropped the bombs.

She dropped the bombs onto the youth (who are the kids of peacekeepers and residents of the capital, as mentioned in the book) disguised as Snow. This made the rest of the Capital think that Snow killed their children, pushing them for join the rebellion and take him down. This then meant that Coin could take place as the new leader.

By using the bombs Gale invented (weapons that Snow did not have) that caused Prim to die, made Katniss think that Snow killed her sister. This could've been to break Katniss so she was no longer a threat or push her to complete the rebellion by killing Snow. This also makes Coin look less suspicious because why would she kill her own medics? It was all a set up to make Snow look bad, allowing Coin to come and save the day.

When Snow makes his speech to Katniss, he mentions that if he would've had an aircraft, he would've used it to escape. I find this very plausible especially as the Capitals defence was too weak to try and stop the rebel attacks.

Although Coin being responsible does make sense, there are a few things that makes it seem like it was Snows doing. For example, it was Snows orders to have all of children brought forward and he kept the gates closed so all the residents and children were trapped. If he didn't have a plan to bomb them, why didn't he just let them in? Although he doesn't have much of a motive as the Capital had no defence and therefore had already admitted defeat. You could argue this the other way; why would Coin set off the bombs if she had already won? As mentioned before, maybe it was all a scheme to break Katniss? Would Coin sacrifice all those lives just to make her less of a threat? Maybe if her greed for power was strong enough?

My guess is that Snow (for a unexplained reason) gathered all the children in one place and when Coin saw this, she took this opportunity to make Snow look bad and break Katniss. (there are many problems with this theory, but its as good as any other!)

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I figured it out! Snow & Coin are working together without anyone knowing so they can trick the rebels and everyone else! That is why 1 of the game makers left the Capitol to go to coin so he can pretend he was working alongside coin, because he knew katniss would figure it out and kill coin & snow. & he (Pluto) would take over to make it so there was never no more hunger games because ppl would vote for him to be president and everyone would be able to finally live in peace

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  • This seems all very speculative and doesn’t really directly answer the question. Firstly, do you have any evidence you could edit in to back any of this up? Secondly, who are you saying was responsible for the bombing? Coin and Snow? You should only answer the question not push tangential theories. – TheLethalCarrot May 3 at 8:42
  • Coin was responsible for the bombing, and the game maker who was working with snow was just pretending to help him because he (the game maker Pluto) knew katniss would figure it out and kill coin and snow so he (Pluto) would become President because the 2 evil ppl would be dead and Pluto would make it so there was no more hunger games so everyone could finally live in peace. Also Pluto knew that snow was going to die soon because snow was obviously old and very sick & Pluto knew that when snow died coin would become President & Pluto knew the danger if coin became President – Jacqueline Kolbaska May 3 at 14:39
  • Ps I watched all of the hunger games movies over and over and over! so trust me I figured it out by now – Jacqueline Kolbaska May 3 at 14:41
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Unpopular Opinion: It was Snow.

I think it's clear, that Coin had motive and opportunity. Which is exactly why she couldn't have done it! I mean if she did, she certainly didn't do it all by herself (as explained above). And the point is that much like it would've come out if Snow were behind it, just the same goes the other way. Certainly, Katniss wasn't the only one who lost someone in the bombing. It would've come out. Someone would've put 1 and 2 together and come forward, tho she's clever, she's not the only one who can think... Also, as mentioned by Snow himself, the war was over, they would've won one way or another imo Coin wouldn't have risked it.

So why Snow? Well, as said the he had already lost, BUT we know that the capitol has a gigantic (nuclear) weapon arsenal, probably wrong enough to blow everything to pieces. Which he probably would've done in such a situation. However, his main enemy in the entire movie is Coin. He want's to kill her more than Katniss or anyone else. Maybe, he even saw the bad in Coin in the end and wanted to prevent a second Panem. Therefore, instead of killing everyone he orders this horrendous, last strike to create the ultimate lie that convinces Katniss to kill Coin. Indeed, Snow is not wasteful. He uses Prim's death to 'kill' Coin.

Also, as @bluejayke mentioned Snow kept the gates shut, tho there's no real reason to.

To be fair, I haven't read the books, but assuming from this question and other answers it's never clearly stated who did it. So it makes sense to assume that something different happened.

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