Afghanistan says the death toll from an attack, which saw the US military dropping the ‘mother of all bombs’ on eastern Nangarhar Province, has jumped to 94, with the figure expected to rise due to the devastating strength of the bomb.
Spokesman for the provincial governor, Ataullah Khogyani, stated on Saturday that the number of suspected Daesh terrorists killed in the massive bomb attack had nearly tripled from the 36 reported a day earlier.
The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb – the US military’s largest non-nuclear bomb -- was first used against suspected Daesh positions on Thursday.
An Afghan Defense Ministry official has said the number of fatalities could increase as authorities were still assessing the site of the bombing in Nangarhar’s Achin district.
Khogyani further said the US attack on a tunnel complex in the remote province near the Pakistan border had killed at least four Daesh commanders, adding that clearance operations were continuing. He did not, however, elaborate on how the terror chiefs were identified.
Moreover, Achin district governor Esmail Shinwari put the militant death toll at 92 while insisting that there were “no military and civilian casualties at all.”
The massive bombing, however, sent shock waves in Afghanistan, with some censuring the US attack as a bid to use the war-torn country as a testing ground for the mega-bomb.
The opponents argue that Daesh does not pose as great a threat to Afghanistan as the local Taliban militant group, which remains much more active across the country.
Hours after the incident, Hamed Karzai, the former Afghan president, took to Twitter to condemn the assault “in strongest words,” saying Washington is using Afghanistan “as testing ground for new and dangerous weapons.”
Residents of Kabul also reacted with suspicion to the US deployment of one of the largest conventional bombs ever used in combat.
“The truth is something else we all know, that Daesh, the Taliban or other enemies are implementing a proxy war for others. The fact is that America uses their big bomb here to test its effectiveness, if America wants to eliminate Daesh it is very easy because they have created this group,” said Asadullah Khaksar.
Another Kabul resident, Mohammad Aman also expressed doubts about the reports that there had been no civilian casualties in the attack.
“Daesh is the enemy of Afghanistan, I wish that America in reality targeted Daesh in that area, but there are children there and they had casualties from this bombing. Not only do I condemn this, the whole world condemns this action,” he added.
However, President Ashraf Ghani threw his support behind the bombing, saying it was “designed to support the efforts of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and US forces conducting clearance operations in the region.”
Despite the presence of thousands of foreign boots on the ground, Afghanistan has been rocked by a surge in terrorist attacks, some of them carried out by Daesh mainly active in Nangarhar Province.
This is while the country has already been torn apart by decades of Taliban-led militancy and the 2001 invasion of the US and its allies.