Published: Fri, April 14, 2017
U.S. | By Eddie Scott

'Mother of all bombs' killed 36 IS militants in Afghanistan

'Mother of all bombs' killed 36 IS militants in Afghanistan

Thirty six Islamic State militants have been killed by a U.S. bomb which was dropped on IS-held caves in Afghanistan, according to reports.

In this May 2004 photo, a group gathers around a GBU-43B, or massive ordnance air blast (MOAB) weapon, on display at the Air Force Armament Museum on Eglin Air Force Base near Valparaiso, Fla.

The U.S. estimates 600 to 800 IS fighters are present in Afghanistan, mostly in Nangarhar. US and Afghan forces had been unable to advance because IS had mined the area with explosives.

"We targeted a system of tunnels and caves that ISIS fighters use to move around freely, making it easier for them to target U.S. military advisers and Afghan forces in the area", White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said.

US forces in Afghanistan struck an Islamic State tunnel complex in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday, April 13, 2017, with a GBU-43B, the largest non-nuclear weapon ever used in combat by the USA military, Pentagon officials said.

Trump said he authorised the use of the bomb in Afghanistan and called the mission "very, very successful". "The US took all precautions necessary to prevent civilian casualties and collateral damage as a result of the operation", he said. I think China has been really working hard on this. "North Korea is a problem, the problem will be taken care of". He told U.S. lawmakers the current troop level was insufficient and there was a "shortfall of a few thousand" advisers to train the Afghans.

Officially known as the Massive Ordinance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb, the huge 9797kg payload was targeted at a complex of caves and tunnels the terrorist group used in the east of Afghanistan on Thursday, local time. The munition was developed during the Iraq war and is an air blast-type warhead that explodes before hitting the ground in order to project a massive blast to all sides. "We have the greatest military in the world, they've done a job, as usual, so we have given them total authorisation and that's what they're doing, and frankly, that's why they've been so successful lately", he said.

As originally conceived, the MOAB was to be used against large formations of troops and equipment or hardened above-ground bunkers. The target set has also been expanded to include targets buried under softer surfaces, like caves or tunnels.

Speaking later Thursday, President Trump was asked if he had authorized the bombing. He declined to comment on whether the US would use the weapon again, in Afghanistan or elsewhere.

"The Secretary General and I had a productive discussion about what more North Atlantic Treaty Organisation can do in the fight against terrorism", Trump said. "I said it was obsolete; it's no longer obsolete".

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