USA's giant bomb has killed 94: Afghanistan
The number of militants killed in an attack by the largest non-nuclear weapon ever used in combat by the US military has risen to 94, an Afghan official said on Saturday. Ataullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor in Nangarhar, said that the number of Islamic State group dead was up from the 36 reported a day earlier, reported AP.
A Ministry of Defence official had said on Friday that the number of dead could rise as officials assessed the bomb site in Achin district. "Fortunately there is no report of civilians being killed in the attack," Khogyani said.
The American attack on a tunnel complex in the remote eastern Nangarhar province near the Pakistan border killed at least four Islamic State (IS) group leaders, Khogyani said. He said a clearance operation to assess the site of the attack was continuing.
The strike using the Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, or MOAB, was carried out Thursday against an Islamic State group tunnel complex carved into the mountains that Afghan forces had tried to assault repeatedly in recent weeks in fierce fighting in Nangarhar province.
The office of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had said on Friday that there was "close coordination" between the US military and the Afghan government on the operation, and they were careful to prevent any civilian casualties. The USA estimates that 600 to 800 IS fighters are in Afghanistan, mostly in Nangarhar. America has concentrated on fighting them while also supporting Afghan forces against the Taliban. The USA has more than 8,000 US troops in Afghanistan, training local forces and conducting counterterrorism operations.
Also on Saturday, Khogyani said that a district leader and three others were wounded when their vehicle was targeted by a bomb. One of the wounded was Ghalib Mujahid, Bati Kot district chief, he said. "The district chief and others are out of danger and are not in life-threatening condition," he said. Last November, Mujahid was attacked by a sticky bomb attached to the vehicle and he was wounded and his driver was killed.
Meanwhile, US-backed fighters reached the outskirts of a key jihadist-held town in northern Syria as part of an offensive against the Islamic State group's bastion Raqa, a monitor said on Saturday, reported AFP.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an Arab-Kurdish alliance supported by US-led coalition air strikes and special forces advisers, surrounded Tabqa in early April and have cut its main supply routes.