Pentagon: No need for Trump's approval to use massive bomb
Apr 21 2017 by Larry Hoffman
The statement by the spokesperson for the governor of Nangarhar came after an Afghan Ministry of Defense official said on Friday that ongoing clearance and assessment of the bomb site in the Achin district of Nangarhar indicated that the number of dead could rise.
The initial toll given by Afghan officials for Thursday's strike was 36.
The Islamic State group's news agency Aamaq denied that the strike caused any deaths or wounded in a one-line statement put out on its social media channels, citing a "source" within the group. CNN can not independently confirm the number of casualties.
Thursday's explosion reverberated for kilometres and engulfed the remote area in towering flames, destroying what officials called a network of underground ISIS tunnels and caves that had been mined against conventional ground attacks. A 300 meter long tunnel, along with large amounts of light and heavy weapons and munition were destroyed in the bombing, the Afghan defence ministry said Friday.
The top USA military commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, had said the decision to use the bomb was purely tactical, and made as part of the campaign against IS-linked fighters. He continued, "It was the right time to use it tactically against the right target on the battlefield".
The United States, as part of its counterterrorism mission in Afghanistan, has been helping Afghan forces battle the local ISIS branch known as Islamic State-Khorasan Province since a year ago.
A similar report on Friday had quoted the Afghan officials as saying that no civilian has been harmed in the bombing.
And former president Hamid Karzai accused the American military of using his country as a weapons testing ground. President Donald Trump declined to say whether he personally signed off on the use of the GBU-43/B MOAB, known as.
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White House officials won't detail precisely when that visit will take place but say it will come "soon".
Residents in Afghan villages near the target area felt Thursday's powerful strike.
"The earth felt like a boat in a storm", one villager, who lives about 1.5 miles away from the blast, told the Guardian.
"We were all scared, and my children and my wife were crying".
Analysts in the U.S. also began to question whether using the biggest conventional weapon in America's arsenal was overkill.
The MOAB strike followed last week's death of a United States special forces soldier fighting IS in Nangarhar.
USA and Afghan soldiers were at the cave complex Friday inspecting the damage. It was the first major militant group to directly challenge the Afghan Taliban's dominance over the local insurgency.