‘Mother of all bombs’ kills 36 IS militants in Afghanistan
Kabul/Washington: At least 36 Islamic State (IS) militants were killed after the US military struck the terror group’s position in eastern Afghanistan with a massive GBU-43 bomb, also known as the “mother of all bombs”, the Afghan Defence Ministry said on Friday.
The US military dropped the largest non-nuclear, 10-tonne missile powered by a wave of air pressure, on an IS cave complex in Achin District, in Nangahar Province bordering Pakistan.
“The strike has destroyed an IS headquarters, three IS hideouts along with several bunkers and deep tunnels as well as huge amount of weapons and ammunition,” the Defence Ministry statement said.
No civilian was injured in the raid which took place in Mohmand Dara village, Asadkhil area of the district, the statement added.
A spokesman for the ministry said the bombing was carried out “in coordination” with Afghan military forces.
The strike was designed to minimise the risk to Afghan and US forces conducting clearing operations in the area while maximising the destruction of IS fighters and facilities, said the US Forces-Afghanistan, which is part of NATO-led Resolute Support.
“US forces took every precaution to avoid civilian casualties with this strike. US forces will continue offensive operations until ISIS-K (IS) is destroyed in Afghanistan,” it said.
Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani hailed the attack on the IS position.
“Precautions were taken to avoid civilian casualties with this airstrike. Assessment of the casualties to the ISIS-K is in process,” the Afghan Presidential Palace said in a statement.
US President Donald Trump said on Thursday the bombing was “another successful job”, reported CNN.
It is the third major military action Trump’s administration has taken in recent months, following a military raid in Yemen that left civilians and a US Marine dead, and last week’s surprise strike on a Syrian airfield.
Afghanistan’s Ambassador to the US, Hamdullah Mohib, said the colossal Massive Ordinance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB) was dropped after fighting had intensified over the last week.
The US and Afghan forces had been unable to advance because IS — which has expanded into Afghanistan in recent years — had mined the area with explosives.
A local resident living around two kilometres from the blast site told CNN he heard an “extremely loud boom that smashed the windows of our house”.
“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.
Multiple Afghan officials previously said they had no information about the bombing before it happened.
US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Washington is “working with the government of Afghanistan and our partners in the region in order to deny any terrorist organisation — that includes Al Qaeda as well — a safe haven or any kind of material support on the ground.”