December 5, 2009:
The Taliban continue to adapt to new NATO tactics for detecting roadside bombs in Afghanistan. The current trend is to rely on more elaborate methods of deception. One troubling trend (especially for animal lovers) is the use of pack animals. These are common throughout rural Afghanistan, especially donkeys. In this case, the goods the animal carries is mostly explosives. A donkey can carry at least a hundred pounds of explosives, even counting material to hide the true nature of the load. Wheelbarrows and bicycles are also used, and carry about the same load of explosives. These bombs usually are left around where foreign troops are expected to pass, and detonated remotely. The Taliban try, often not hard enough, to avoid civilian casualties in these types of attacks. That's because civilians in the vicinity of the bomb are more likely to deceive the foreign troops. When a loaded donkey, bicycle or wheelbarrow is found in an area with no civilians nearby, the troops tend to be more alert to the possibility of a bomb. Civilians can usually pick up on the fact that a bombing attempt is underway, and will clear out if they suspect that a certain donkey is more of a weapon than a beast of burden.