By PATRICK QUINN
The Associated Press
Thursday, September 21, 2006; 12:38 PM
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Iraqi insurgents are no longer using just volunteers as suicide car bombers but are instead kidnapping drivers, rigging their vehicles with explosives and blowing them up, the Defense Ministry said Thursday.
In what appears to be a new tactic for the insurgency, the ministry said the kidnap victims do not know their cars have been loaded with explosives when they are released.
The ministry issued a statement saying that first "a motorist is kidnapped with his car. They then booby trap the car without the driver knowing. Then the kidnapped driver is released and threatened to take a certain road."
The kidnappers follow the car and when the unwitting victim "reaches a checkpoint, a public place, or an army or police patrol, the criminal terrorists following the driver detonate the car from a distance," the Defense Ministry statement said.
There was no immediate comment from the U.S. military. In the past, U.S. officials have said insurgents often tape or handcuff a suicide driver's hands to a car, or bind his foot to the gas pedal, to ensure that he does not back out at the last minute.
Although roadside bombs are the main weapon used by insurgents, suicide car bombers are designed to maximize casualties and sow fear among the population.
According to the Washington-based Brookings Institution, there have been 343 suicide car bombings causing multiple deaths in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.