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Jul. 13 2009 - 8:43 am | 757 views | 4 recommendations | 14 comments

This is what an IED looks like

(photo by P.J)

(photo by P.J)

I took this photo near Kandahar, about an hour’s drive outside the city. I blew the aperture way out so that you can see the bomb in greater detail. I’m told it was about 50 gallons of explosive liquid, hooked up to a cell phone (pictured bottom right.) If the phone rang, we would all have been vaporized. Luckily, US vehicles have cell-phone jammers.

The IED was stuck in a culvert and found by some Afghan police before the convoy I was in drove over it.

IED deaths and attacks have skyrocketed in Afghanistan since the “surge” began, mostly because insurgents know they can’t fight toe-to-toe with the heavy armor and air support fielded by the coalition.

I was maybe twenty-feet from the culvert when I took this picture and the light-spots on the bomb are from mirrors that the soldiers used to reflect light onto the “subject.”

I haven’t seen many photos of IEDs, but with deaths from these bombs skyrocketing, I thought I’d post this pic here, so you could have a better idea what the US and NATO are up against.


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  1. collapse expand

    I’d like to write something smart and insightful right now but all i can think of is oh.my.god.

    Thank you for posting this, P.J….and be careful out there.

  2. collapse expand

    My sentiments exactly, thank you very much for what your doing, you’ll be in my prayers. And now that you’ve posted it and we know what one looks like, no need to get that close again, K?

  3. collapse expand

    Thanks so much guys!

    Andrea, I’m always careful.

    Risin, as for not getting that close again, sadly, it just doesn’t work that way.

  4. collapse expand

    I haven’t seen anything like this in previous news coverage, P.J. It’s terrifying in its simplicity.

    Thank you for capturing this, but I am with the others in urging you to be careful.

  5. collapse expand

    We’ve gotten so used to the lingo, the stories, the data, the opinions, wailing women we don’t really know, flies on kids we don’t really know. Somehow, despite all that, we find a way not feel and know that it’s about BOMBS. Thank you for making it personal, and immediate, and for making us nervous about you.

  6. collapse expand

    Likewise, thanks for this. And thanks for not making it a debate about whether or not we should be there.

  7. collapse expand

    I don’t know what to say either except that this is what news is all about. I think there was once a time when the reporting your are doing would have been done by TV and print. People like you would have been the big shots.

    In due time you will get the recognition you deserve for your hard work.

  8. collapse expand

    Well I know what to say: We’re Screwed.

    When you can’t tell who the enemy is and bombs can be created this simply, the only defense is an excellent, deeply embedded counter intelligence force. I don’t think we are there yet.

    You keep your head down, man and make lots and lots of friends.

  9. collapse expand

    What liquid? Where from?

    We all know about unexploded cluster bombs, widely dropped in s. afghanistan. And other unexploded stuff, simply simply turned around to get the pawns of the side whose elites had them deployed in the first place.

  10. collapse expand

    I can’t help but admire the perseverance and ingenuity of people who have lost everything and much of their families and villages, fighting back. No other options here, fighting back.

    We need to bring our troops out right now, and if Afghan insurgents claim they defeated all our $$$ and high-tech and grisly “science”, and PR, they deserve to claim it because that’s precisely what they are doing. We really need these people in the gene pool, not dead.

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    About Me

    I’m a writer and reporter living in Kabul, Afghanistan. For the past four years I’ve been an investigative reporter at various Village Voice Media weeklies, and before that I worked on documentary films in New York City.

    I am currently a journalism mentor and news editor for The Killid Group, a not-for-profit radio and print organization based in Kabul, with five radio stations and many bureaus throughout Afghanistan.

    My writing has appeared in The Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, Christian Science Monitor, Village Voice, Modern Drunkard and other fine publications.

    Originally from Philadelphia, I’ve also worked in south Florida and Nashville, Tennessee.

    See my profile »
    Followers: 165
    Contributor Since: June 2009
    Location:Kabul, Afghanistan