As many as three dozen militants with the radical Islamic State group were killed when US forces dropped a 22,000-pound bomb on their hideout in eastern Afghanistan, defense ministry officials said Friday.
The US military headquarters in Kabul said the bomb was dropped at about 7.30pm local time on a tunnel complex in Nangarhar province, where the Afghan affiliate of IS has been operating.
This is the first time a MOAB has been used in the battlefield, according to the USA officials.
"This is a very specialised weapon, we don't have very many of them, you can only use them in a very narrow set of circumstances", said Mark Cancian, a senior adviser with the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank. It has steadily lost territory and fighters to USA air strikes and an assault by Afghan forces on the ground.
In March, U.S. forces conducted 79 "counterterror strikes" against Islamic State targets in Nangarhar, killing as many as 200 militants, according to the U.S. military command in Kabul. The U.S. has concentrated heavily on combatting them while also supporting Afghan forces battling the Taliban.
He said civilians would have been "impacted in terms of feeling the tremor" of the weapon.
There was no immediate comment from the Islamic State group or other militants regarding the US bomb attack.
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Ismail Shinwari, the governor of Achin district, said the US attack was carried out in a remote mountainous area with no civilian homes nearby.
The MOAB strike followed last week's death of a USA special forces soldier fighting IS in Nangarhar. That is a significant change from the Obama administration practice of holding such authorities at high political levels, but it has been in place for some time.
The region the MOAB struck butts up against the porous Pakistan border.
"We will use whatever force that is available to us", Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman, Mohammad Radmanesh, said following the strike. It was first produced for use in the early days of the Iraq war. "And with the maximum amount of caution so that we don't cause civilian casualties". District governor Ismail Shinwari said there is no civilian property near the air strike location. The ordnance itself is created to destroy wide, shallow target sets, like tunnel complexes, so there is no reason to suspect North Korea or Iran would fear for their deeply buried nuclear weapons facilities because of its use.
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 U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan following Thursday's bombing.
"President Trump owes the American people an explanation about his escalation of military force in Afghanistan and his long-term strategy to defeat ISIS", she said in a statement.
A source said Donald Trump may have authorised the use of the bomb but he does not have to.