US troops seize gang 'smuggling bombs from Iran'


AFP
Date: 04-27-07

BAGHDAD (AFP) - US forces on Friday detained four members of a gang suspected of smuggling armour-piercing bombs from Iran to Iraq and sending back militants for "terrorist training", the military said.

A statement from US command in Iraq said the suspects were picked up in an early morning raid on the east Baghdad suburb of Sadr City, a known stronghold of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia.

"The individuals targeted during the raid are suspected members of a secret cell terrorist network known for facilitating the transport of weapons and explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, from Iran to Iraq," it said.

The EFP is a form of roadside bomb in which the detonation of an explosive charge inside a steel tube causes a copper disk to deform into a fist-sized chunk of supersonic molten metal that can scythe through armoured vehicles.

American commanders say the design is exclusively Iranian and in January alleged that at least 170 US troops had been killed by EFPs since May 2004.

The statement also said that the gang had sent "militants from Iraq to Iran for terrorist training."

"Intelligence reports also indicate the secret cell has ties to a kidnapping network that conducts attacks within Iraq," it added.

The announcement came one day after the US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, accused Iranian Revolutionary Guards of supporting a Mahdi Army splinter group implicated in the kidnap and murder of five GIs.

Since January, US forces have been holding five alleged members of the Guards' covert Qods Force after seizing them in a raid on an Iranian government office in the northern Iraqi City of Arbil.

Tehran denies that its agents are involved in the Iraqi conflict.



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