'Sticky bombs' add new dimension to Iraqi dangers
A kind of adhesive bomb has added a new dimension of terror to everyday life in Iraq.world Updated: Nov 15, 2008 10:26 IST
A kind of adhesive bomb has added a new dimension of terror to everyday life in Iraq. Known by a variety of names - sticky bomb, magnetic bomb or glued bomb - the explosive is generally planted on a car's undercarriage and then detonated by a remote control.
As its use surges, it's more and more common to see Iraqis checking the undersides of their vehicles lest they become the latest victim of this threat.
Hardly a day passes in Iraq without an explosion of a sticky device targeting an official, bus or private vehicle.
"I heard my son screaming loud as he was undergoing the routine morning checkup of his car before he goes to his work. I ran to him and saw a terrified look in his eyes. He then told me that he discovered a strange object that he suspected was a sticky bomb underneath the car," 47-year-old Umm Khaldoun, a Baghdad resident, told DPA.
"My son had to seek the assistance of a police patrol. They brought an explosives expert who was able to defuse it and get it out in two hours," added Khaldoun.
Usually small and light, the bombs are fixed to vehicles with magnets or glue, often near the fuel tank or in the bumper. They can be activated in seconds by remote control.
While sticky bombs are not new to Iraq, their growing use is ringing alarming bells, observers say.
Because they are usually attached with strong magnets, it is almost impossible for an ordinary person to detach a sticky bomb without seeking the help of bomb experts.
Iraqis are now more cautious than ever for fear of being targeted by the bombs. Owners of shops and restaurants routinely block people from parking their vehicles or bicycles in front of their shops.
Based on figures from Iraq's Interior Ministry, sticky bombs killed three people and wounded 18 in Baghdad alone during the month of July. In October, nine people were killed and 46 more were injured by sticky bombs.
In Kerbala, south of Baghdad, a sticky bomb killed one member of the provincial governing council in October and wounded two others.
According to Iraqi security sources, some of the sticky devices come from outside Iraq. But they say the bombs can be made domestically by electronics experts making use of material available in local markets.
In October, Iraqi security forces raided a bomb-making factory in Baghdad and discovered more than hundred sticky bombs, according to press reports.
Initially, sticky bombs were used to target senior officials and army or police officers. But now they are being deployed against ordinary citizens, students and university professors. They are found in the parking lots of governmental buildings, on cars in main streets and vehicles parked at markets.
Jihad al-Jabry, head of the counter-explosives unit in the Iraqi Interior Ministry, told DPA that this type of bomb is being planted by supporters and sympathizers of the Al Qaeda network in Iraq, as well as by other militant groups.
Al-Jabry added that these devices are also often planted by street peddlers and beggars, who number in the hundreds, in return for money from these militant groups.
Explosives experts said there are multiple ways to detonate the bombs.
The most popular method in Iraq is by using a remote control. The bomb can also be constructed with a mobile phone, which allows detonation by ringing the phone. Other methods rely upon time bombs or motion-sensitive bombs that only detonate when a vehicle picks up speed.
Al-Jabry says he is satisfied with the tools available to the ministry for countering sticky bombs. He said the department has some very advanced detection devices with a 600-metre range. They are used mainly at checkpoints.
Al-Jabry added that Iraqi forces also use a mobile detection device that has successfully uncovered a number of sticky bombs planted in the streets.
"Our team of experts detonates around six sticky bombs daily from vehicles in Baghdad only," al-Jabry said.
However, despite the advanced technology, al-Jabry believes that the best prevention is for the Iraqis to follow safety instructions and check their vehicles every time before driving.
"The interior ministry has prepared a safety manual to explain all safety procedures and ways to deal with the sticky bombs. It will soon be distributed in schools and ministries," al-Jabry said.