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US ‘mother of all bombs’ killed 36 Islamic State militants in Afghanistan

US drops Mother of all bombs on IS militants in Afghanistan. GRAPHIC NEWS April 14, 2017 — The U.S. military has dropped America’s most powerful non-nuclear bomb on so-called Islamic State targets in Afghanistan. It is the first time this type of weapon has been used in battle. Graphic shows the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB).

KABUL – As many as 36 suspected Islamic State militants were killed in Afghanistan when the United States dropped “the mother of all bombs,” one of the largest non-nuclear devices ever unleashed in combat, the Afghan defence ministry said yesterday.

Thursday’s strike came as US President Donald Trump dispatches his first high-level delegation to Kabul, amid uncertainty about his plans for the nearly 9,000 American troops stationed in Afghanistan.

The deaths have not been independently verified, but ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri said no civilians were harmed in the massive blast that targeted a network of caves and tunnels.

“No civilian has been hurt and only the base, which Daesh used to launch attacks in other parts of the province, was destroyed,” Waziri said in a statement.

He was using an Arabic term that refers to Islamic State, which has established a small stronghold in eastern Afghanistan and launched deadly attacks on the capital, Kabul.

The 21,600-pound (9,797-kg) GBU-43 bomb, was dropped from an MC-130 aircraft in the Achin district of the eastern province of Nangarhar bordering Pakistan, Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump said on Thursday.

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The device, also known as the “mother of all bombs,” is a GPS-guided munition that had never before been used in combat since its first test in 2003, when it produced a mushroom cloud visible from 20 miles (32 km) away.

The bomb’s destructive power, equivalent to 11 tonnes of TNT, pales in comparison with the relatively small atomic bombs dropped on Japan at the end of World War Two, which had blasts equivalent to between 15,000 and 20,000 tonnes of TNT.

At a village about 5 km from the remote, mountainous area where the bomb was dropped, witnesses said the ground shook, but homes and shops appeared unaffected.

“Last night’s bomb was really huge, when it dropped, everywhere, it was shaking,” said a resident, Palstar Khan, adding that he believed no civilians were in the area hit.

Other residents said they saw militants climbing up and down the mountain every day, making occasional visits to the village. “They were Arabs, Pakistanis, Chinese and local insurgents coming to buy from shops in the bazaar,” said resident Raz Mohammad.

Yesterday, the village was swarming with Afghan and international troops, as helicopters and other aircraft flew overhead.

The strike was part of a joint operation by Afghan and international troops, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s office said in a statement. “Afghan and foreign troops closely coordinated this operation and were extra cautious to avoid any civilian casualties,” it said.

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