Afghan Officials: Massive US Bomb Death Toll Rises To 94

Apr 16, 2017, 02:08

At least 94 Islamic State (Daesh) militants including four key commanders were killed in Afghanistan after the U.S. dropped a massive bomb on a cave complex in Nangarhar province, the provincial government said Saturday.

Nangarhar officials on Saturday revised the death toll in Thursday night's bombing in Achin district in Nangarhar, stating at least 94 militants had been killed in the incident including four of their top commanders.

The US military said that the bomb, set off in the eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan on Thursday, was aimed to destroy a tunnel and cave complex used by ISIS militants in the region.

"We had persistent surveillance over the area before, during and after the operation, and now we have Afghan and USA forces on the site, and see no evidence of civilian casualties", Nicholson said.

The bomb, weighing almost 10,000-kilogram, is guided by Global Positioning System and is the most powerful non-nuclear bomb that the United States possesses.

He said a clearance operation was continuing.

Why was the area targeted?

Afghan officials said 36 militants were killed in the strike. The latest attack claimed by the group occurred on Wednesday when a suicide bomber blew himself up near the Afghan Defense Ministry killing five people.

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Global chemical weapons experts have reportedly gone to Turkey to collect samples taken from Khan Sheikhoun. He claimed the U.S. and the West were "hand-in-glove with the terrorists".

Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai condemned the attack stating it was not used in a fight against terrorists but the country of Afghanistan.

The strike came as US President Donald Trump prepares to dispatch his first high-level delegation to Kabul, amid uncertainty about his plans for the almost 9000 American troops stationed in Afghanistan.

General Nicholson said the decision to use the 9,797-kilogram GBU-43 bomb was based on his assessment of military needs and not broader political considerations.

The Afghan and USA militaries coordinated for the operation, the president of Afghanistan's office reportedly said.

A local resident living around two kilometers (1.5 miles) from the blast told CNN he heard an "extremely loud boom that smashed the windows of our house".

When IS announced the establishment of its Khorasan branch - an old name for Afghanistan and surrounding areas - in January 2015, it was the first time the group had officially spread outside the Arab world.

But he said it could be "significant" because the attack came at evening prayer time, when fighters might have been concentrated in one area.

The bomb was dropped after fighting intensified over the past week and US-backed ground forces struggled to advance on the area. However, now the group has been dramatically degraded to no more than 800 fighters.