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Mideast edition, Wednesday, September 19, 2007

ARLINGTON, Va. — Attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq using deadly explosively formed penetrator devices increased significantly from spring to summer, but a Defense official said he sees signs of a downward trend.

On Monday, the Defense Department released its congressionally mandated quarterly report on progress in Iraq and noted that EFP attacks increased nearly 40 percent from the March-May time frame to the June-August period.

But a Defense spokesman said officials also saw a decrease in EFP attacks at the end of the summer, with 75 EFP attacks in August compared to 99 in July.

“The downward trend is consistent with the drop we have had in all forms of attacks quite frankly,” the spokesman said.

In Baghdad, the number of overall roadside bomb attacks reached a three-and-a-half year peak of 394 in June but fell to 232 in August, according to figures provided to Stars and Stripes. That represents a decrease of more than 41 percent.

Overall attacks against U.S. troops and U.S. casualties have also dropped, according to the report released on Monday. It also noted a decrease in roadside bomb attacks and Iraqi civilian casualties but added, “It is too early to determine the sustainability of these trends.”

Roadside bombs remain a constant threat to U.S. troops, and EFPs have proven to be particularly deadly.

The EFPs fire a slug of high density metal at between 4,000 and 6,500 miles per hour with much more energy than roadside bombs made from artillery shells.

The penetrator’s high velocity can punch a relatively small hole in a vehicle’s armor, then sprays occupants inside with a stream of shrapnel.

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