The strike in Nangarhar province near the Pakistan border killed at least 90 ISIS fighters, Afghan officials told Saturday. A ministry of defence official had said Friday the number of dead could rise as officials assessed the bomb site in Achin district.
Afghan officials say it killed as many as 36 suspected Islamic State militants, although a news agency affiliated with Islamic State in the Middle East carried a statement denying that the group had suffered casualties in the attack.
GBU-43 bomb, which has 11 tons of explosives, was dropped from a MC-130 aircraft in the Achin district of Nangarhar province, close to the border with Pakistan, Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump said.
"The enemy had created bunkers, tunnels and extensive mine fields, and this weapon was used to reduce those obstacles so that we could continue our offensive in southern Nangarhar", said Gen John Nicholson, the most senior USA military commander in Afghanistan.
A United States official who monitored the recent attack which saw one of the biggest conventional bombs ever to be used in combat - said it was impossible to determine how many fighters might be buried underground. "We're talking today about the GBU-43, there's another one, the GBU-57, that's the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, and that will be very interesting to use practically because that one goes against deepened, protected targets - that's a bunker buster".
The statement said it is the responsibility of Afghans, not the U.S., to remove IS from the country. "What it does is basically suck out all of the oxygen and lights the air on fire", said Bill Roggio, of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies to Military Times.
The security situation remains precarious in Afghanistan, with a number of militant groups trying to claim territory more than 15 years after the USA invasion which toppled the Taliban government.
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While Trump's newfound interventionist attitude was welcomed by hawks in his own party and even some opposition figures, Democrat Representative Jackie Speier voiced concerns over increasing United States military involvement in Afghanistan following Thursday's bombing.
Spicer said the bomb was dropped at around 7 p.m. local time and described it as "a large, powerful and accurately delivered weapon".
President Trump had praised the U.S. military after it dropped the GBU-43 bomb in Afghanistan, calling the mission "a great success".
"This was the right weapon against the right target", Gen. John Nicholson, the top commander of US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces in Afghanistan, said.
The officials said that Gen. John Nicholson has standing authority to use the bomb, which is called the Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (MOAB). The weapon's blast generates a mushroom cloud that can be seen from about 20 kilometers away. It is indeed a reflection of the fear that war tired ISIS fighters are seeking sanctuaries and attack bases in Afghanistan with USA and Russian forces playing active roles in Syria and Iraq.
IS had earlier said it had not suffered any casualties in the blast. "We also ask the Kabul government to use even stronger weapons against them", Hakim added. In the past year, they have largely concentrated on thwarting a surge of attacks by the Taliban, who have captured key districts, such as Helmand province, which US and British troops had fought bitterly to return to the government.
The provincial police commandment said the suicide bombers were looking to target the police commandment of Achin district.