Sat, Apr 15, 2017 - Page 5 News List

Bomb kills dozens of IS fighters

‘TOWERING FLAMES’:Locals likened the blast to an earthquake, with several people knocked unconscious. Many are leaving the area, fearing more bombings

AFP, JALALABAD, Afghanistan

Achin District in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, is pictured yesterday after US forces dropped the “mother of all bombs” on an Islamic State tunnel complex.

Photo: AP

The US military’s largest non-nuclear bomb killed at least 36 militants as it destroyed a deep tunnel complex of the Islamic State (IS) group, Afghan officials said yesterday, ruling out any civilian casualties.

The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb hit IS hideouts in Achin District in eastern Nangarhar Province on Thursday.

“As a result of the bombing, key DAESH hideouts and a deep tunnel complex were destroyed and 36 IS fighters were killed,” the Afghan Ministry of Defense said in a statement, using an Arabic acronym for the militant group.

US President Donald Trump had earlier called the mission “very, very successful.”

The Afghan presidential office said precautions were taken to avoid civilian casualties.

The huge bomb, delivered via an MC-130 transport plane, has a blast yield equivalent to 10 tonnes of TNT and the weapon was originally designed as much to intimidate foes as to clear broad areas.

“The GBU-43/B is the largest non-nuclear bomb ever deployed in combat,” US Air Force spokesman Colonel Pat Ryder said.

Achin Governor Esmail Shinwari said the bomb landed in the Momand Dara area of the district.

“The explosion was the biggest I have ever seen. Towering flames engulfed the area,” Shinwari told reporters. “We don’t know anything about the casualties so far, but since it is a DAESH stronghold, we think a lot of DAESH fighters may have been killed.”

An Afghan militant source told reporters from an undisclosed location that locals had described the ground shaking “like an earthquake,” with people being knocked unconscious by the blast.

“People have started leaving the area fearing more bombings,” he said.

The Pentagon’s announcement of the attack drove markets down, with Asian bourses headed south following overnight losses on Wall Street.

It added to concerns among investors already wary of risks over Syria and North Korea, as well as the outcome of the French presidential election.

The assault came only a week after Trump ordered missile strikes against Syria in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack.

Meanwhile, Trump has said he is keeping “all options” on the table to stop North Korea’s nuclear program, as speculation mounts that Pyongyang might soon hold another nuclear test.

Nangarhar Province, which borders Pakistan, is a hotbed of IS militancy. US forces have conducted a number of airstrikes on militant bases in the area since August last year.

IS, notorious for its reign of terror in Syria and Iraq, has been making inroads into Afghanistan in recent years. It has attracted disaffected members of the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban as well as Uzbek extremists.

However, the group has been steadily losing territory in the face of heavy pressure from US airstrikes and a ground offensive led by Afghan forces.

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