Officials: At least 94 Islamic State fighters dead in U.S. bombing

By Amy R. Connolly and Eric DuVall  |  April 15, 2017 at 11:15 AM
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April 15 (UPI) -- At least 94 Islamic State fighters were killed when the U.S. military dropped its most powerful non-nuclear bomb on militant group targets in Afghanistan, Afghan officials said Saturday.

Attaullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor in Nangarhar, told several media outlets the number of dead was up from the 36 deaths reported on Friday. Officials said the number could increase as assessments of the bombing area continue.

"The number of Daesh fighters killed in the U.S. bomb in Achin district jumped to 94, including four commanders," Khogiani told CNN, using an alternative name the IS. The IS' media wing, Amaq News Agency, said none of its fighters were killed or injured.

The bomb dropped on Thursday was a 21,600-pound GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, nicknamed "the mother of all bombs" or MOAB. It was released from a C-130 Hercules in eastern Afghanistan at 7:32 local time. The device is the largest non-nuclear bomb in the Pentagon's arsenal.

The blast destroyed at least three underground tunnels and weapons and ammunitions caches. Officials said no civilians were hurt.

Not everyone called the bombing a success. Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai likened the bomb's use to that of a weapon of mass destruction and called on U.S. military forces to leave the country.

"By using #WMD, the US has lost whatever claim of purpose it had. With this abuse of our soil, the US presence in Afghanistan is against the aspiration of our people," Karzai said as part of a series of Twitter posts on Saturday.

He told The New York Times the man who now holds his former job, President Ashraf Ghani, is a "traitor" for cooperating with the United States on the use of the massive bomb. Ghani's office called the deployment a success.

"Shame on him for saying that, shame, shame," Karzai said. "No Afghan with self-respect would do that." He added, "He is a traitor, a traitor."

Though Karzai's power and influence have diminished significantly since he left office, many in Afghan society share his distrust of U.S. aerial strikes. While some hard-line conservative party leaders in the region signed off on the use of the bomb, many said they believed it was being deployed not specifically because it was needed -- though the military stressed the underground caves where IS fighters were hiding couldn't have been hit with less powerful weapons -- but to scare other nations like Syria and North Korea by showing off its destructive power.

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