John on April 6, 2007 at 1:21 pm
In the deep south of the country, the Basra police commander said the type of roadside bomb used in an attack that killed four British soldiers on Thursday had not been seen in the region previously. Maj. Gen. Mohammed al-Moussawi’s description of the deadly weapon indicated it was a feared Iranian-designed explosively formed penetrator.
Two more of the bombs were discovered planted along routes heavily traveled by U.S. and British diplomats in Basra. Weeks earlier, the American military had claimedwas supplying Shiite militia fighters in Iraq with the powerful weapons, known as EFPs. The bombs hurl a molten, fist-sized copper slug capable of piercing armored vehicles.
Al-Moussawi said two similar bombs were discovered Friday morning; one was found on the road leading to Basra Palace, the compound that houses a British base and the British and U.S. consulates. A second was uncovered in the western Hayaniyah district where Thursday’s attack occurred. The area is known as a stronghold of the Mahdi Army, a militia loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
On the other hand, Reuters has a story which ends with this statement:
But a Western explosives expert in Iraq said it appeared from photographs of the crater that the blast had been caused by a commercial landmine buried in the road, not by an EFP.
And a London Times story casts even more doubt on the EFP claim:
British army officials said their own explosives experts had completed their assessment of the device that destroyed the 24-tonne Warrior armoured personnel carrier, but refused to either confirm or deny the commander’s claim.
British officials were sceptical that the police commander – a widely respected officer in Basra who is not affiliated to any of the main parties — could have drawn so definite a conclusion so quickly on Iran’s alleged involvement in the attack.
“I’d be surprised if we were able to say where the components came from. People can surmise, but unless you see ‘Made in Iran’ or see them carrying it across the border it is very difficult to say,” said Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Stratford-Wright.
He said details of the device would not be released to avoid giving anti-coalition force’s “battle damage assessment”. But initial estimates had indicated that the lethal blast was not a so-called explosively formed projectile, or EFP, which generally explode from the side of the road.
Nevertheless, the Times says the blame is still likely on Iran:
Officials believe the anti-British operations to be the work of a Mahdi faction that has drifted away the main current of the nationalist Shia force and come under the influence of Iran. While Iranian influence on the militia as a whole is believed to be limited in scope, the small groups affiliated with Tehran receive disproportional amounts of funding and weaponry from their eastern neighbour.
Category: Islamic Jihad |