After the recent spate of attacks on the ally forces led by U.S in Afghanistan primarily using homemade bombs that used substances like fertilizers, the NATO forces have started a new hunt for such materials.
In a pair of raids on Sunday, Afghan police and American soldiers discovered a half-million pounds of ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer that is used in the overwhelming majority of homemade bombs here. Some 2,000 bomb-making devices like timers and triggers were also found, and 15 Afghans were detained.
With a typical homemade bomb weighing no more than 60 pounds, the seizure of that much fertilizer — more than 10 tractor-trailer loads — removed potentially thousands of bombs from the streets and trails of southern Afghanistan, officials said.
“You can turn a bag of ammonium nitrate into a bomb in a matter hours,” said Col. Mark Lee, who heads NATO’s effort to stop the bombmakers in southern Afghanistan. “This is a great first step.”
The operation is being run in the city of Kandahar which has witnessed much bloodshed in the recent past. Use of ammonium nitrate is illegal in Afghanistan; though the farmers are allowed to use other types, like urea-based fertilizer, for agricultural purposes. Most of the ammonium nitrate fertilizer in Afghanistan is believed to be imported from Pakistan.
The Oklahoma bombings in 1995 had used 600-pounds of ammonium nitrate mixed with other fuels resulting in death of 168 people. The cuurent raids are aimed to take away the substance from talibani insurgents.
The use of homemade bombs, the leading killer of American and NATO soldiers, has been skyrocketing. Last year, 4,100 bombs either exploded or were discovered beforehand in Afghanistan. So far this year, 6,500 bombs have either been found or have gone off, military officials in Kabul said.
While the forces are still removing the seized substances, reports indicated that so far they had filled ten 40-foot long shipping containers with the stuff.