ISIS leaders among 94 killed in East of Afghanistan

More than 1,900 IS militants, several Afghan security forces and two US soldiers have been killed in Achin and neighboring districts since 2015, according to Afghan military officials.

The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB) or in military speak, Mother of All Bombs - was launched on Thursday and according to White House spokesman the target was a network of tunnels operated by so-called Islamic State (IS) in Achin district.

Some local elders said most of the civilians in that area had already fled due to the presence of IS as well as extended fighting between IS and government forces.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said he approved of the strike, and it was created to support Afghan and United States forces conducting clearance operations in the region.

"This was the right weapon for the right target", said U.S. Gen. John W. Nicholson, NATO commander in Afghanistan, at a news conference.

US President Donald Trump called it a "successful mission" and said that the US military had full authoirisation to attack.

It is the military's largest non-nuclear weapon and was used to strike the Achin area in the Nangarhar province on the border with Pakistan.

"This was the first time that we encountered an extensive obstacle to our progress", he said on Friday of a joint Afghan-US operation that has been targeting IS since March.

"If you want to destroy and eliminate Daesh, then even if you destroy my home we won't complain, because they are not human beings, they are savages", said resident Mir Alam Shinwari, using an Arabic term for the IS.

"This is the right weapon for the right target", said US General John W Nicholson, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation commander in Afghanistan. The blast, from the weapon dubbed the "mother of all bombs", destroyed three underground tunnels as well as weapons and ammunition, but no civilian was hurt, said a Defense Ministry spokesman.

A - Throughout its history, Afghanistan has seen its landlocked territory used as a pawn by bigger powers - from the 19th century "Great Game" between Britain and Russian Federation to the Cold War, when the US backed Afghan rebels against a Soviet occupation.

The commander of the USA forces in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, defended the use of the bomb and confirmed the target of the strike was the network of tunnels that ISIS fighters use to move around and protect themselves from Afghan and US forces. AFP said that Afghan officials confirmed the death toll.

Mr Trump earlier said he had given "my authorisation".

It was the first time the MOAB weapon was used in combat operations.

"US and Afghan forces had been unable to advance because ISIS -which has expanded into Afghanistan in recent years - had mined the area with explosives", notes CNN.

But it's clear that the pace of USA air operations has quickened since Trump took office.

Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai on Saturday criticized both the Afghan and US governments for the attack in Nangarhar.

Q - If analysts say the Taliban threat is greater, why was such a huge bomb aimed at a lesser militant group? However, they expressed concern over the fate of people whom they said IS had held hostage.

  • Leroy Wright