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Tuesday, November 25, 2003

KRT Wire | 11/25/2003 | Homemade bombs make Iraq deadlier for soldiers

Homemade bombs make Iraq deadlier for soldiers
The Dallas Morning News

DALLAS - (KRT) - Iraq's mean streets have become even more dangerous because of homemade bombs that are easy to make, easy to conceal - and deadly.

"Improvised explosive devices," as they are called by the military, are the preferred weapon for many Iraqi insurgents who cannot compete with the superior firepower and technology of U.S. forces. U.S. service members may never see who detonates a bomb by wire or remote control; the perpetrators may be miles away if a pressure switch is used to activate the devices.

Military officials say that U.S. forces increasingly are encountering the homemade bombs, and that the devices are taking a toll. Since President Bush declared major combat operations over on May 1, at least 60 U.S. service members have been killed in incidents involving homemade bombs, including one Sunday.

"The attacks have become more stand-off," said Maj. Gen. Raymond Odierno, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, in a recent teleconference.

"They try to avoid direct contact. … What we have seen is more mortar attacks and more … improvised explosives," he said.

The raw materials for making the explosive devices are abundant in Iraq. Massive quantities of munitions were stored in military facilities. And weapons caches are still being discovered in abandoned homes, remote fields or buried in containers. One Army demolition expert has estimated that roughly 600,000 tons of ordnance is still on the ground in Iraq.

Just one buried container located by 4th Infantry Division soldiers earlier this year was filled with more than three dozen assault rifles and submachine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and rounds, surface-to-air missile launchers, a substantial quantity of ammunition, 45,000 sticks of dynamite, 11 improvised explosive devices and 80,000 feet of detonation cord.

On Friday, 16 Iraqis were caught trying to plant improvised devices; soldiers with the 10th Mountain Division obtained information that led them to a large weapons cache that included 28 prepared IEDs.

On a larger scale, truck and car bombs have been used in a number of high-profile attacks. In August, a truck filled with military munitions devastated the United Nations' headquarters in Baghdad, killing the top U.N. official in Iraq and 16 others. More recently, truck bombs killed more than two dozen Italian peacekeepers and Iraqis earlier this month in the southern city of An Nasiriyah.

There is, however, a notable distinction between these incidents - typically suicide attacks - and placing a roadside improvised explosive device, possibly while unobserved and not facing certain death.

KRT Wire | 11/25/2003 | Homemade bombs make Iraq deadlier for soldiers

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