'Mother of all bombs' has Afghans divided

Posted April 18, 2017

In Afghanistan, the public reaction to the bomb attack could have unsettling consequences.

The massive bomb terrified villagers 20 miles away across the border in Pakistan with a blast they described as earsplitting.

Afghan officials had earlier said the bombing had killed 36 IS fighters, adding that there there were "no military and civilian casualties at all".

In addition, said an administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the attack also reinforces the message that US President Donald Trump has given his military commanders freer rein than did his predecessor, Barack Obama. Footage put out by the Pentagon showed the bomb slamming into a mountainside overlooking a river valley, causing a giant blast that overwhelms the landscape then sends up a massive column of black smoke.

Addressing a press conference in Kabul yesterday, he said the weapon used, the GBU-43, was created to destroy caves and tunnels and that this had been the "right weapons against the right target".

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In Achin village, about 5 kilometres from the remote, mountainous area where the bomb was dropped, witnesses said the ground shook, but homes and shops appeared unaffected.

Afghan and U.S. forces were at the scene of the strike and reported that the 'weapon achieved its intended objective, ' Nicholson said.

The U.S. military strategically dropped a 21,600-pound GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb from a C-130 Hercules on what it called the "right target" in the eastern Afghanistan on Thursday night. Multiple Afghan officials previously said they had no information about the bombing before it happened.

But use of the bomb, which was developed in 2003, is a clear manifestation that new United States administration intends to rely heavily on use of its military might in Afghanistan, dealing a severe blow to prospects of peaceful resolution of the conflict, which is becoming complicated with the passage of time due to obstinate behaviour of the USA and Kabul Government.

But former President Hamid Karzai accused the United States of using Afghanistan as "a testing ground for new and risky weapons".

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The commander of the US forces in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, defended the use of the bomb and confirmed the target of the strike was the network of tunnels that ISIS fighters use to move around and protect themselves from Afghan and USA forces.

The statement said it is the responsibility of Afghans, not the USA, to remove the Islamic State group from the country.

Since 2001 western forces have been engaged in hostilities in the country following the rise of Al Qaeda, the Taliban and more lately Islamic State.

"We are united with the Afghan government to prevent terrorists from establishing safe havens in Afghanistan", Gen Nicholson said.

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