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The IED tussle

The "improvised explosive device" may seem a humble opponent for the US military, but it is the focus of a battle of innovations pitting high-tech against low cunning

By Bartle Bull   October 2005

During lulls in the night fighting in Baghdad’s Sadr City last year, as Muqtada al Sadr’s militia turned Baghdad’s biggest ghetto into the most booby-trapped war zone on earth, it used to look to me like someone was staging Macbeth in hell. With the dark air full of dust and smoke, human figures moved over the pavement like black ghosts while car lights swerved crazily through the smog.


The spectres around me were mostly involved in planting the homemade bombs known as improvised explosive devices, or IEDs—the insurgency’s main weapons in Iraq. The swerving cars were avoiding the…

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