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Navy Lt. Cmdr. Keith Dowling explains how an explosively formed penetrator (EFP) works at a Baghdad press conference. Officials say weapons cache finds have doubled since Oct. 2006 and roadside bomb attacks fell to 2004-levels last month.
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Keith Dowling explains how an explosively formed penetrator (EFP) works at a Baghdad press conference. Officials say weapons cache finds have doubled since Oct. 2006 and roadside bomb attacks fell to 2004-levels last month. (Erik Slavin / S&S)

BAGHDAD — Roadside bomb attacks receded to a three-year low last month while weapons cache finds have doubled from October 2006, Multi-National Force–Iraq officials said Tuesday.

Roadside bomb explosions averaged 20 per day in October, compared with a high of about 65 per day at the same time last year.

Last month’s figure matches a September 2004 low and is the first time attacks have averaged fewer than 30 per day in a month since February 2006.

Meanwhile, 5,364 weapons caches were found in October, compared with 2,667 during the same time last year, officials said.

Total indirect fire attacks, which include rocket and mortar attacks, also dropped monthly from almost 1,000 in June to fewer than 400 in October, they said.

Rear Admiral Gregory Smith, director of MNFI’s communication division, said the numbers were encouraging but he didn’t draw any larger conclusions.

“It’s far too early to call this a statistically significant trend,” Smith said. “The enemy has a vote. There is still much danger out there.”

Smith credited the military’s troop surge for the increasing number of caches found as well as more tips coming from “concerned citizens” groups, which act like unofficial armed police units in some areas of Iraq.

Smith acknowledged those citizens groups were short-term solutions until the Iraqi police forces can establish a stronger presence.

Lt. Cmdr. Keith Dowling, officer in charge of Multi-National Corps–Iraq’s combined explosives exploitation cell, said none of the weapons found last month or at the large cache northwest of Fallujah on Saturday showed any new technological sophistication.

“It was a standard cache find, but a significant find,” Dowling said.

The Saturday cache included rocket launchers, mortars, C-4 explosive and explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, Smith and Dowling said.

EFPs are far more powerful than most other roadside bombs and can fire metal slugs at more than 4,000 mph.

Some of the weapons from the largest finds came from Iran but did not appear to have arrived in Iraq since a recent Iranian pledge to stop the flow of EFPs, Smith said.

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