- 90 suspected ISIS terrorists reported dead in Afghanistan
The US dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb, the GBU-43 or Massive Ordinance Air Blast (MOAB), on Afghanistan
- The bomb targeted a series of caves used by ISIS militants in Nangarhar province
- It was dropped at around 7 pm US local time
- Pentagon confirmed it was the first ever combat use of the bomb
As many as 90 suspected Islamic State militants were killed in Afghanistan when the United States dropped the ‘mother of all bombs’, its largest non-nuclear device ever unleashed in combat, reported AFP, quoting Afghan sources. This comes as an update from an earlier report that had 36 suspected ISIS terrorists dead.
#BREAKING Number of IS fighters killed by US bomb jumps to 90: Afghan officials— AFP news agency (@AFP) April 15, 2017
The claims have not been independently verified, but Ministry Spokesman Dawlat Waziri said no civilians were harmed in Thursday's massive blast that targeted a network of caves and tunnels.
Dawlat Waziri No civilian has been hurt and only the base which Daesh used to launch attacks in other parts of the province, was destroyed.
The United States dropped a GBU-43 bomb or the Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB), the largest non-nuclear bomb it has ever used in combat, in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday against a series of caves used by Islamic State militants, the military said.
A Pentagon spokesperson, Adam Stump, said that it was the first-ever combat use of the GBU-43, which he said contains 11 tonnes of explosives.
It was dropped from a MC-130 aircraft in the Achin district of Nangarhar province, close to the border with Pakistan, Stump said.
The US military released footage showing moments when the bomb was dropped on Afghanistan.
Also known as the "mother of all bombs," the GBU-43 is a 21,600 pound (9,797 kg) GPS-guided munition and was first tested in March 2003, just days before the start of the Iraq war. The Pentagon had also done a formal review of legal justification for its combat use.
“Although the MOAB weapon leaves a large footprint, it is discriminate and requires a deliberate launching toward the target,” the review said. It added: “It is expected that the weapon will have a substantial psychological effect on those who witness its use.”
The US estimates 600 to 800 ISIS fighters are present in Afghanistan, mostly in Nangarhar. US has concentrated heavily on combatting them while also supporting Afghan forces battling the Taliban.
Just last week a US Army Special Forces soldier, Staff Sgt Mark R De Alencar, 37, of Edgewood, Maryland, was killed in action in Nangarhar.
"Middle of nowhere", "empty", "deserted" Afghanistan where the MOAB was dropped is home to people. Almost 95,000 people.— Sana Saeed (@SanaSaeed) April 13, 2017
The security situation in Afghanistan remains precarious, with a number of militant groups trying to claim territory more than 15 years after the US invasion which toppled the Taliban government.
General John Nicholson, the head of US and international forces in Afghanistan, said the bomb was used against caves and bunkers housing fighters of the Islamic State in Afghanistan, also known as ISIS-K.
It was not immediately clear how much damage the device did.
Addressing a press briefing after the bomb strike, Donald Trump said that he is “very, very proud of our military...it was another successful event."
Everybody knows exactly what happens, so, and what I do is I authorise my military. We have the greatest military in the world, and they’ve done a job as usual, so we have given them total authorization. And that’s what they’re doing. And frankly, that’s why they’ve been so successful lately.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer opened his daily news briefing speaking about the use of the bomb and said:
We targeted a system of tunnels and caves that ISIS fighters used to move around freely, making it easier for them to target US military advisers and Afghan forces in the area.
Last week, a US soldier was killed in the same district as the bomb was dropped while conducting operations against Islamic State.
Sean SpicerThe United States takes the fight against ISIS very seriously and in order to defeat the group, we must deny them operational space, which we did.
He said the bomb was used at around 7 pm local time and described the device as "a large, powerful and accurately delivered weapon."
The United States took “all precautions necessary to prevent civilian casualties and collateral damage,” Spicer said.
US officials say intelligence suggests Islamic State is based overwhelmingly in Nangarhar and neighboring Kunar province.
Estimates of its strength in Afghanistan vary. US officials have said they believe the movement has only 700 fighters, but Afghan officials estimate it has about 1,500.
Islamic State's offshoot in Afghanistan is suspected of carrying out several attacks on minority Shi'ite Muslim targets.
The Afghan Taliban, which is trying to overthrow the US-backed government in Kabul, are fiercely opposed to Islamic State and the two group have clashed as they seek to expand territory and influence.
The GBU-43 is a large-yield conventional (non-nuclear) bomb developed by the United States and having a kill radius of 1.6 km.
It weighs a massive 21,600-pound, and is GPS-guided. The bomb is designed to be delivered by a C-130 Hercules.
The first testing of the GBU-43 was carried out on 11 March 2003 at the Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. It was again tested on 21 November 2003.
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