90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fertilizer Bombs Continue To Challenge U.S. Military

A Pakistani man carries sacks of fertilizer to smuggle into neighboring Afghanistan at Pakistani border town of Chaman. The U.S. government believes that most of the bombs killing its troops in Afghanistan are made with a chemical fertilizer produced by a single company in Pakistan and American officials have launched an intense and so far unsuccessful push for regulation. (AP)

A Pakistani man carries sacks of fertilizer to smuggle into neighboring Afghanistan at Pakistani border town of Chaman. (AP)

Hundreds of U.S. troops in Afghanistan have been killed by improvised explosive devices. The Pentagon spends billions trying stop IEDs, which cost only about $40 to make and are little more than plastic jugs filled with explosive ammonium nitrate fertilizer.

“What you’re looking at is fertilizer with an accelerant which could be sugar or sawdust. The blasting cap is often fashioned out of a ballpoint pen or Christmas lights,” military reporter Greg Jaffe told Here & Now‘s Sacha Pfeiffer.

The fertilizer is manufactured in Pakistan, and so far U.S. military officials aren’t having much success at stopping its flow across the border into Afghanistan. An owner of one of the fertilizer plants in Pakistan says farmers need the fertilizer and the amount that falls into insurgents’ hands is less than 1 percent of his production.

Guest:

  • Greg Jaffe, Washington Post military reporter

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Spotlight

We now have a digital bookshelf! Explore all our books coverage or browse by genre.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

January 29 Comment

DJ Sessions: Go Deadhead

The Grateful Dead celebrates 50 years since the band's start this year.

January 29 14 Comments

Middle-Aged And Living Alone

"There might be an initial honeymoon period, but what does living alone eventually do to you?" Sandra Tsing Loh asks.

January 28 15 Comments

Zillow And ‘The New Rules Of Real Estate’

The CEO and chief economist of the groundbreaking real estate website explain how the rules have changed.

January 27 117 Comments

Nun Hopes For More Gender Equality In The Church

Sister Joan Chittister describes how the Vatican's tone toward nuns has changed and shares her hopes for the Catholic church.