For US troops in Iraq’s still-volatile Diyala province, abandoned houses can be a refuge—or a serious threat, the Wall Street Journal reports. Soldiers depend on abandoned houses to provide shelter as combat bases, but insurgents have taken to wiring the buildings with “house-borne improvised explosive devices,” killing a dozen soldiers since 2007.
The Journal tells the story of troops “who walked right into” an insurgent trap: after deeming a town devoid of militants, soldiers adopted a house as their base. It seemed perfect —but later, a soldier spotted copper wiring outside. A search under tiled floors revealed that “the whole house is an IED,” a soldier warned. Had the troops not escaped before the booby-trap went off, “it would have been an al-Qaeda grand slam,” said an officer.