The U.S. Thursday (April 13) dropped a bomb with an explosive force equal to 11 tons of TNT on a cave complex used by the Afghanistan branch of the , the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Pentagon said.
The bomb is officially called a GBU-43 or Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB), the origin of its nickname as the mother of all bombs.
The 9,797kg GBU-43 was dropped from a MC-130 aircraft in Achin district of Nangarhar province, close to the border with Pakistan, according to the Pentagon.
At the White House, President Donald Trump called the bombing "another very, very successful mission." According to CBS News, asked if he personally authorized the strike, Mr. Trump said "everybody knows exactly what happened." "What I do is I authorize my military," Mr. Trump said. "We have the greatest military in the world and they've done their job as usual. So, we have given them total authorization and that's what they're doing."
White House Press secretary Sean Spicer said that the strike targeted a "system of tunnels and caves that ISIS fighters used to move around freely." He said the U.S. "took all precautions necessary" to minimize civilian casualties.
Not surprisingly, the office of the US-client Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said in a statement the US attack was a part of a joint operation by Afghan and international troops. "Afghan and foreign troops closely coordinated this operation and were extra cautious to avoid any civilian casualties," it said.
In a statement, the U.S. command in Afghanistan said the strike was "designed to minimize the risk to Afghan and U.S. Forces conducting clearing operations in the area while maximizing the destruction of ISIS fighters and facilities." General John Nicholson, head of US and international forces in Afghanistan, said the "weapon achieved its intended purpose". Nicholson said the decision to use the bomb was based on his assessment of military needs and not broader political considerations.
Hamid Karzai condemns
Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai has condemned the dropping of the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat, saying Afghanistan shouldn't be used as a "testing ground" for weapons. In a series of Twitter posts, Karzai said: "This is not the war on terror but the inhuman and most brutal misuse of our country as testing ground for new and dangerous weapons."
Afghan ambassador to Pakistan, Dr Omar Zakhilwal, also took to Twitter to share his views. Alluding to the bombing of Afghanistan since 1979, first by the USSR and then the U.S., ambassador Zakhiwal said:
"If big bombs were the solution we would be the most secure place on earth today."
Hindustan Times quoted an Afghan journalist as tweeting: While the "civilized west" is celebrating Easter, the "uncivilized & barbarian Afghan Muslims" are being dropped at 21,000-pound bomb... Dropping 'mother of all bombs' was yet another stage show by Trump who made it clear that Muslim lands are but the West's laboratories.Towering flames
The GBU-43 ultra-heavy bomb is equal to 11 tonnes of TNT with a blast radius of 1.6km on each side. At a village 5km from the remote, mountainous area where the bomb was dropped, witnesses said the ground shook from shockwaves, but homes and shops appeared unaffected. "Last night's bomb was really huge. When it dropped, everywhere it was shaking," a resident told Reuters news agency, adding he believed no civilians were in the area hit.
Al Jazeera quoted spokesman for a hospital in eastern Nangarhar, as saying that the facility had received no dead or wounded from the attack.
On its part, ISIL denied it suffered any casualties. "Security source to Amaq agency denies any dead or wounded from the American strike in Nangarhar using a GBU-43/B," the group's self-styled news agency said on social media accounts.