World News

Alarm over growing use of "sticky bombs" in Iraq

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi and U.S. officials are concerned about an apparent surge in “sticky bombs,” explosives fixed to vehicles with magnets or glue, as a tactic for assassinating Iraqi officials.

The use of such small explosives by Sunni insurgents and Shi’ite militiamen is not a new phenomenon in more than five years of war in Iraq.

But U.S. and Iraqi security officials are paying renewed attention on the bombs in the last two months, especially in the capital Baghdad.

“It seems we have had an uptick, 21 sticky bombs in the last month of October (in Iraq),” U.S. military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Steven Stover said.

Personnel were being told to check their vehicles before driving and to be alert while they traveled, he said.

Bombs are usually stuck to the target’s car while it is parked then is triggered by remote control.

It is not clear whether the “sticky” bombs mark a shift in tactics for militants as violence drops to sharply in Iraq.

They may be an efficient way to target politicians or low-level officials for assassination but they are too small to be used for mass killings that have been a favorite tactic of Sunni Islamist al Qaeda.

“It is an easy method for them because the sticky bombs are a small size, easy to carry and plant. We have noticed this in the last two months,” Iraqi security forces spokesman Qassim Moussawi said.

A sticky bomb killed one member of the provincial governing council in Kerbala, south of Baghdad, last month, and wounded two others. The explosives have also targeted police.

Moussawi said a bomb-making factory that Iraqi security forces discovered in Baghdad last month contained 187 sticky bombs and 43 roadside bombs.

Last week, Iraq police captured 12 militants trying to smuggle sticky bombs into the western city of Ramadi.

Reporting by Tim Cocks and Aseel Kami; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Angus MacSwan