In Afghanistan, the Taliban have apparently run out of munitions left
over from the 1980s war with Russia, and are increasingly using fertilizer
based explosives for their roadside bombs. Mix fertilizer with the right amount
of diesel or gasoline, use a detonator to set it off, and it goes off like
second rate explosives.
explosives are bulkier than the kind of military explosives found in 1980s era
bombs and shells. The explosive power varies with the skill of whoever is
mixing the fertilizer and fuel. Thus the roadside bombs are often less powerful
than the ones using military or commercial explosives, and often much larger
and easier to spot. NATO troops, learning from their Iraqi experienced U.S.
counterparts, are getting more effective at spotting these bombs.
about 90 percent of the roadside bombs are detected and disarmed or destroyed
before they can hurt anyone. A lot of these bombs are found because local
civilians tip the troops off. While the civilians risk retaliation from the
Taliban, it is civilians who suffer the most casualties from these devices. The
troops increasingly travel in well protected vehicles, and the explosion tends
to hurt any unprotected civilians within range. The Taliban don't try too hard
to avoid civilian casualties.