Government: 36 Islamic State fighters killed by massive bomb

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The almost 22,000-pound bomb is believed to have killed at least 36 fighters and destroyed "large quantities" of weapons when it struck a network of tunnels, bunkers and other fortifications used by the offshoot group ISIS-K (for Khorasan province), according to an Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman.

The fortification's defenses were such that the use of the MOAB was necessary, according to the general.

About 36 suspected militants were killed, according to Afghan officials, but IS has denied suffering any casualties.

US forces in Afghanistan on Thursday struck an Islamic State tunnel complex in eastern Afghanistan with the largest non-nuclear weapon every used in combat by the USA military, Pentagon officials said.

Yesterday's target was a cave and tunnel complex used by the Islamic State in Nangarhar Province's Achin District, a remote, mountainous area near the Pakistan border.

Afghan Defence Ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri said no civilians were harmed in the massive blast that targeted the network of caves and tunnels, which had been heavily mined.

The 30-foot-long, GPS-guided bomb is capable of destroying an area equivalent to nine city blocks.

Also Friday, Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., commander of US forces in Afghanistan, defended the strike as "the right weapon against the right target", and said it "achieved its intended objective", which was to remove the tunnel complex as an obstacle to USA and Afghan forces on the battlefield.

General John Nicholson, the top United States commander in Afghanistan, insisted during a press conference in Kabul Friday that the bomb was the "right weapon against the right target".

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The U.S. estimates 600 to 800 IS fighters are present in Afghanistan, mostly in Nangarhar. He added, "We have USA forces at the site, and we see no evidence of civilian casualties nor have there been reports".

Meanwhile, former Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai was among the first to condemn the bombing.

The US coordinated the attack with Afghanistan, Afghan officials said.

White House officials won't detail precisely when that visit will take place but say it will come "soon". Trump called the bombing "another successful job".

Residents in Afghan villages near the target area felt Thursday's powerful strike.

"We were all scared, and my children and my wife were crying. We thought it had happened right in front of our house".

Gen Nicholson defended the strike despite many in the war-ravaged country questioning as to why the America used this massive bomb in Afghanistan when it has never been used in Iraq and Syria.

USA and Afghan soldiers were at the cave complex Friday inspecting the damage.

The Taliban, a much bigger insurgent group, is expected to soon announce the start of this year's fighting season.