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Feb 4, 2010 7:52 PM by Elaine Sheridan

US rushes bomb dogs to Iraq

The US military is rushing delivery of dozens of bomb-detection dogs to Iraq, after accusations that widely used mechanical devices are ineffective to pinpoint explosives at checkpoints and other search sites.

The first shipment of dogs - 25 expected Friday - comes amid pressure on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for security lapses after suspected Sunni militants scored a series of successes in carrying out major bombings in Baghdad, killing hundreds since August.

The attacks have hurt his government's standing before next month's elections to pick Iraq's next parliament and leaders.

Another 120 bomb-sniffing dogs are scheduled to arrive in Iraq over the next 12 months in Iraq, Army Major Sylvester Wegwu, a senior military adviser at the Baghdad Police College, told The Associated Press.

"We have more requests than we have dogs and handlers," added police Brig Gen Mohammad Mesheb Hajea, who is in charge of the training programme.

The worries over security are strong enough to overcome reluctance among Iraqi forces to use canines because of Islamic religious taboos that consider dogs unclean animals.

 

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