Government: 36 Islamic State fighters killed by massive bomb

Posted April 15, 2017

The largest non-nuclear bomb ever used by the USA military killed dozens of ISIS militants in a strike on a network of tunnels in Afghanistan, according to the Afghan defense ministry.

Not everyone was pleased by the United States military's use of the untried bomb.

A statement on the IS-supporting Amaq news agency denied there were any IS casualties in the bomb strike.

The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb - dubbed the "Mother Of All Bombs" - was unleashed in combat for the first time on Thursday, hitting ISIS positions in eastern Nangarhar province.

The US Department of Defense posted a video of the strike on Twitter with the caption: "A MOAB bomb strikes Isis cave and tunnel systems in eastern Afghanistan".

The 30-foot-long, GPS-guided bomb is capable of destroying an area equivalent to nine city blocks.

"This is the right weapon for the right target", said US General John W Nicholson, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation commander in Afghanistan.

General John Nicholson, head of USA and global forces in Afghanistan, said the "weapon achieved its intended purpose".

The U.S. estimates 600 to 800 IS fighters are present in Afghanistan, mostly in Nangarhar. That operation began 13 days ago with Afghan special forces "with the help of American air support".

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Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai tweeted: "This is not the war on terror, but the inhuman and most brutal misuse of our country as testing ground for new and risky weapons".

USA and Afghan officials have said their goal is to "eliminate" the Islamic State from Afghanistan this year, but the Trump administration has not yet said if it plans to commit more troops to the fight. Trump called the bombing "another successful job".

When he was asked about the timing of the unprecedented strike, and whether it had been influenced by the White House, Nicholson said, "In regard to timing, it's when we encountered this target on the battlefield".

There was also approval from villagers who lived far enough away from the target to be harmed but who still heard the massive explosion caused when the 11-tonne cache of explosives detonated.

"We were all scared, and my children and my wife were crying. We thought it had happened right in front of our house", he said.

But reports say fighting has intensified in recent days.

US and Afghan troops went on the offensive against the local Islamic State branch in March, even as they continue to battle a Taliban insurgency in the rest of the country.

American and Afghan forces have been battling the Taliban insurgency for more than 15 years. CNN said the MOAB bomb was selected because the area targeted was in an extremely remote portion of the country, meaning risk to civilians was minimal. Achin is right on the border with Pakistan.