Iraqi insurgents making their bombs smaller, easier to conceal

Friday, April 2, 2004

BAGHDAD Anti-U.S. insurgents have significantly enhanced the lethality of their roadside bombs in attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq.

U.S. officials said Sunni insurgents, most of them believed to be loyalists of Saddam Hussein working with Al Qaida-inspired operatives, have developed smaller and more effective bombs as well as tactics for their concealment from U.S. military convoys. They have also developed tactics to draw U.S. forces into an ambush using fake bombs.

On Wednesday, five U.S. soldiers in an M113 armored personnel carrier were killed in a roadside bombing near Faluja in the Sunni Triangle. Another four foreign contractors, all of them Americans, were killed in an ambush in Faluja, Middle East Newsline reported.

The bodies of the contractors were dismembered and hanged from a bridge over the Euphrates River. On Thursday, Sunni insurgents attacked a U.S. military convoy outside Faluja and torched a Humvee all-terrain vehicle.

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy operations director of the U.S. military in Iraq, reported an increase in the number of attacks against coalition forces. But he said military commanders believe the security situation "remains manageable" and "has not changed in an appreciable manner."

Sunni insurgents have manufactured and deployed improvised explosive devices, a military term for roadside bombs, meant for detonation from a greater distance than those used in 2003. The bombs, composed of TNT and the more advanced plastic explosives, PE-4, have often been concealed in refuse ordinarily found along any highway.

The new bombs developed by the insurgents have become smaller and easier to plant, officials said. The insurgents have also managed to produce bombs more quickly, thereby facilitating multiple and simultaneous explosions.

The U.S. Army has also been confronting more sophisticated methods of planting bombs. Officials report that Sunni insurgents, with the help of Saddam loyalists, have planted hollow 50 mm artillery shells to distract U.S. troops while real bombs were placed nearby.

"We have seen some indicators that these groups that formerly were working solely for the purpose of restoring Saddam or a Baath Party to this country are now colluding [with Al Qaida-aligned groups], perhaps conducting marriages of convenience, to conduct attacks against Iraqi people and the coalition forces," Kimmitt said.

Another insurgency method was to employ fake bombs to draw U.S. soldiers into an ambush. Officials said Sunni insurgents had apparently studied bombing production and deployment used by the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah in Lebanon.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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