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IED is the abbreviation for an Improvised Explosive Device. An IED is usually a makeshift bomb that can be extremely destructive when detonated. There are many different variations of the IED and they are sometimes used as a distracting tactic before another form of attack. These types of bombs are often used in guerrilla warfare.
The explosive capabilities of the IED can be quite different. Some contain lethal chemicals and some contain metal parts such as nails and ball bearings. An IED requires a detonator and also a system that will trigger the electrical charge to set off the bomb. Due to its makeshift nature, the type of explosives used can be mixed. They can be made from military explosives or they can be homemade. The explosive material can be sourced from anything that will maim or kill. Many of these devices contain toxic chemicals or radioactive material. They can be used to kill people or blow up vehicles in roadside attacks.
The IED can be extremely risky when made by an inexperienced person. Detonators can fail to work and people who have been making the bombs have been known to blow themselves up. But the IED can be a source of much damage and many innocent lives have been lost because of them.
The IED has been used in many wars. It was a popular method of destruction in Northern Ireland. The Provisional Irish Republican Army would use these types of bombs for roadside attacks. The worst attack resulted in the loss of 18 lives due to only two of these bombs. They were also widely used in the Vietnam War and in Chechnya.
The size of the IEDs mean that they can be placed almost anywhere. They can be hidden in small boxes, bags and under tables. Many warnings in underground and subway stations and on public transportation around the world exist, advising the public not to touch any bags or boxes that have been left unattended. IEDs have also been used by civilian protesters in pub bombings in London.
The IED has been widely used by Iraqi insurgents in the war in Iraq. They have been the cause of a third of all American deaths during the war. In 2005, during one ten month period, 302 American soldiers were killed due to IED devices.
There you go -- one of the many things that has been frustrating and deadly for troops to deal with in Iraq. You'd think after dealing with these in Vietnam and Iraq, more effective strategies to counter these things would have been developed. Here's a question -- how many coalition troops have been injured or killed by these things since the war in Iraq broke out a decade ago?