The Taliban claim to have developed a new bomb, nicknamed Omar after their fugitive leader, which they say is impossible for Western mine sweepers to detect. The biggest killer of Western troops in Afghanistan are home-made bombs, known as improvised explosive devices (IED). The Taliban deploy IEDs to wide effect in their eight-year insurgency and detonate by remote control. Western military intelligence officials have said most foreign troop deaths, which hit a record 520 last year, are caused by IED.
But the Taliban claimed - ahead of a major assault by foreign troops on the southern Taliban stronghold of Helmand province - to have created a new IED using materials that make them undetectable. The militia, which is leading an insurgency to bring down the Western-backed Afghan government and evict foreign troops, routinely exaggerates its claims. The network's spokesman, who identified himself as Yousuf Ahmadi, said the new bomb had been named after Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar Mujahed, believed to be based in Pakistan.
"Omar is our latest weapon in the war against the invaders," he said by telephone from an undisclosed location. "It's a very effective bomb, it can't be detected by mine-sweeping vehicles and it causes more deaths," he said. He refused to provide more details, saying "it's our military secret" but added that each Omar cost around 100 dollars to make. "With a 100-dollar mine we are able to destroy the enemy's multi-million-dollar anti-mine vehicles," he claimed, referring to heavily armoured vehicles used in Afghanistan by US and other Nato troops.
Mr Ahamdi charged the "Omar bomb" had already been used in attacks on Western forces, but his claim could not be verified immediately. Around 113,000 foreign troops are deployed to Afghanistan under US and Nato command fighting a Taliban insurgency that increasingly relies on IEDs and suicide bomb attacks as its tactics have morphed into guerrilla warfare. * AFP