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'Sticky IED' Attacks Increase In Iraq

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Renee Montagne is away today. I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning.

INSKEEP: Roadside bombs are still killing people. These improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, are sometimes very sophisticated and sometimes very simple - some explosives jammed in a tin can. But either way they demand a sophisticated response. Some U.S. troops are fighting them with math, as we'll hear in a moment. First, we go to Baghdad, where American troops are no longer patrolling but Iraqis are very much exposed. NPR's Kelly McEvers reports.

KELLY MCEVERS: Ahmed Mawla is an explosives disposal instructor with the Iraqi police. He collects IEDs. Some are made with plastic washing machine timers. Most have crude batteries.

MCEVERS: (Through translator) This is like a sample of one IED that uses this action and reaction effect.

MCEVERS: Trigger.

MCEVERS: (Through translator) Yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEPING)

MCEVERS: (Through translator) As you see, it's stuck to the vehicle, and when he moves or when he stops them, the reaction would ensue.

MCEVERS: And the car blows up. Jihad al Jabari heads the anti-explosive unit in the Iraqi Police Department. As we sit him down for an interview, he gets a call reporting a sticky IED that wounded an official with the Baghdad city council.

MCEVERS: (Foreign language spoken)

MCEVERS: Jabari says during the worst years of the Iraq war, there were 50 IEDs a day, as opposed the 100 IEDs a month now. Back then, he says, militants were building IEDs that were much bigger than those used today. That's because militants used munitions that were left behind by Saddam Hussein's regime.

MCEVERS: (Through translator) In 2005, al-Qaida was developing its capabilities like a day by day. What helped them in that is that there were like caches of explosives all over Iraq, like warehouses where explosives were stacked.

MCEVERS: Right now there are a handful of Iraqi units in the police, federal police, army, and various ministries tasked with gathering intelligence. But they don't always share information.

MCEVERS: (Foreign language spoken)

MCEVERS: Kelly McEvers, NPR News, Baghdad. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Kelly McEvers is a two-time Peabody Award-winning journalist and former host of NPR's flagship newsmagazine, All Things Considered. She spent much of her career as an international correspondent, reporting from Asia, the former Soviet Union, and the Middle East. She is the creator and host of the acclaimed Embedded podcast, a documentary show that goes to hard places to make sense of the news. She began her career as a newspaper reporter in Chicago.