Bomb experts hone skills
BOMB disposal officers from armies in six countries have come together in Cork for the first ever international course to upgrade their skills in dealing with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and operating in a high-risk environment.
The three-week course is the brainchild of the ordnance corps of the Defence Forces and is being held in Kilworth Camp.
Irish bomb disposal experts are being joined by others from the Netherlands, Romania, Sweden, Belgium and Switzerland.
Some of the teams have experience in dealing with devices in Afghanistan, where an Irish ordnance officer is deployed to analyse their use and predict future trends.
His analysis forms part of a study to help save military and civilian lives. The Irish officers have broad experience in handling IEDs as a result of their role in the fall-out from the Troubles in the North, and overseas experience in Lebanon, Liberia, Kosovo and Chad.
The course was told yesterday that the use of IEDs in Afghanistan has increased from 81 in 2003 to 7,827 last year.
At home, bomb disposal teams have been called out to 71 incidents so far this year, including 26 viable devices and 20 hoaxes.
This compares with 196 callouts for all of last year, including 67 viable devices and 84 hoaxes.