Sunday, 25 June, 2017

'Mother of all bombs' killed 94 ISIS fighters, Afghan official

170413_FOR_moabBomb A GBU-43/B bomb or Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb explodes in 2003 at Eglin Air Force Base Florida. USAF via Getty Images
Melinda Barton | 21 April, 2017, 20:02

As many as 36 suspected Islamic State militants were killed in Afghanistan when the United States dropped "the mother of all bombs", one of the largest non-nuclear devices ever unleashed in combat, the Afghan defence ministry said yesterday.

The almost 22,000-pound bomb is believed to have killed at least 36 fighters and destroyed "large quantities" of weapons when it struck a network of tunnels, bunkers and other fortifications used by the offshoot group ISIS-K (for Khorasan province), according to an Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman. A statement released Friday through ISIS' media wing, Amaq News Agency, said none of the terror group's fighters were killed or injured.

On Thursday evening, the USA military dropped a GBU-43 or Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb, the largest non-nuclear bomb, on an IS cave complex in Achin District, eastern Nangahar Province bordering Pakistan.

The US is also investigating two of its own strikes in Iraq and Syria that Iraqi officials and activists say killed dozens of civilians.

US Forces-Afghanistan Commander General John Nicholson has said that Thurday night's strike in Achin district in Nangarhar was part of their campaign to destroy ISIS in Afghanistan in 2017.

With North Korea reportedly preparing to conduct a nuclear test this weekend, President Donald Trump was asked whether dropping the bomb sends a message to the eastern aggressor.

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the use of the bomb on Afghan soil.

Those in favor of the attack said the MOAB was the only way to dismantle the cave complex, landmines and tunnels.

The top USA military commander in Afghanistan says that the decision to deploy one of the largest conventional bombs ever used in combat was purely tactical, and made as part of the campaign against Islamic State-linked fighters. A spokesman for the country's Ministry of Defense later said the bombing was carried out "in coordination" with Afghan military forces. "We begged to use bombs on the minefield ghost town I lost my legs clearing".

"I have witnessed a countless number of explosions and bombings in the last 30 years of war in Afghanistan, but this one was more powerful than any other bomb as far as I remember".

Achin is located in the foothills of the Spinghar mountain range that serves as a border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. According to reports, the attack was able to decimate a deep tunnel of ISIS group. "If big bombs were the solution we would be the most secure place on earth today", he said.

According to US officials, the number of ISIS fighters in eastern Afghanistan is estimated to be between 600 and 800 - a decrease from the estimated 3,000 operating in that area in late 2015.