Afghan leaders praise US for ‘Mother of all bombs’ strike

Local Afghan leaders have called the massive bomb that was dropped in eastern Afghanistan last Thursday ‘very successful’ and are pleased with the results.

US troops are still battling suspected Islamic State fighters near the site where the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, nicknamed ‘the mother of all bombs’, was dropped from an American MC-130 aircraft in the Achin district of Nangarhar province, bordering Pakistan, last week.

But local Afghan leaders have said they ‘all are happy’ with the results of the bomb, which had an official insurgent death toll of 96. US, Afghan and local authorities say there were no civilian casualties.

It was the first time that the 21,000lb bomb was used in combat.

The 21,600-pound GBU-43 left a crater believed to be more than 300 feet wide after it exploded just six feet above the ground

US forces in Afghanistan on Thursday struck an ISIS tunnel complex. Pictured, an Afghan security police officer walking amidst the rubble

Local Afghan leaders have said they ‘all are happy’ with the results of the bomb (pictured above in an undated photograph), which had an official insurgent death toll of 96. US, Afghan and local authorities say there were no civilian casualties

‘The attack was successful, and we all are happy, since there were no civilian casualties,’ Zabiullah Zmarai, secretary of the provincial council in Nangarhar, told Foreign Policy.

‘Daesh [the Arabic term for the Islamic State] was a huge threat to the people in Nangarhar. They are relieved they were finished off with one bomb,’ Zmarai added.

The official said that tribal areas in neighboring districts, including Shinwari, Charigam and Kot have also praised the MOAB.

Malawi Subhanullah Salim, from the Bati Kot district said that his community welcomed the operation and was pleased with the results.

‘They [the United States] have pulled out the Islamic State by the roots from this region,’ he told Foreign Policy.

General John W. Nicholson, commander of the US forces in Afghanistan echoed local leaders’ comments.

‘It was the right weapon, for the right target,’ he said on Friday.

Others, however, have questioned the motivation behind the bomb.

Timor Sharan, senior analyst at the International Crisis Group in Washington, called the attack ‘disproportionate’.

‘It’s more about the message than the act — sending a clear message to regional players, including Russia and as far as North Korea, to say that the U.S. is ready to take action and utilize necessary force,’ he told Foreign Policy.

The strike drew condemnation from some prominent figures, including former Afghan president Hamid Karzai and Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan.

‘It is upon us Afghans to stop the USA,’ he said on social media.

The 59-year-old said on Monday that he objected to the use of the weapon, saying that his country ‘was used very disrespectfully by the U.S. to test its weapons of mass destruction’.

Some Afghan officials have complained of a lack of information about the effects of the bomb.

‘We were and we are kept in the dark and still we haven´t been able to go to the site,’ said one senior Afghan security official, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.

‘We are confused ourselves and we wonder what MOAB could have caused.’

In meetings of the Afghan security council, some ministers told President Ashraf Ghani they feared the lack of information from the U.S. side could be exploited by Islamic State, which has continued radio broadcasts claiming none of its fighters were killed.

Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai (pictured today) has accused the US of using his country as a weapons testing ground following Washington’s Mother of All Bombs strike

‘We haven’t suffered any casualties from this bomb,’ said one recent Islamic State broadcast. ‘We are fighting for the sake of God, who is much stronger than this bomb.’

U.S. military spokesman Captain William Salvin would not comment on claims by Afghan defence officials that nearly 100 Islamic State fighters died in the strike.

The attack was aimed at destroying an ‘extensive’ complex of fortified tunnels and mines and not any particularly large concentration of fighters, he said.

‘Our assessments are ongoing,’ Salvin said, noting that the strike appeared to have collapsed many tunnels, destroyed mines, and ‘reduced’ several nearby structures.

U.S. troops have continued to use explosives to collapse other tunnel entrances not destroyed by the bomb, he said.

For at least a month before the strike, the U.S. military had broadcast radio messages warning of coming operations by American and Afghan troops in southern Nangarhar, and leaflets were dropped on areas affected by the operation, Salvin said.

One leaflet seen by Reuters in a village near the strike shows a picture of a drone with an Afghan army emblem and reads: ‘We ask residents to leave as soon as possible to save