36 Islamic State (IS) militants were killed when a US military struck with a weapon known as the ‘mother of all bombs’ (MOAB), destroying their military base, the Afghan defence ministry says.
Reports say the 9 800 kg bomb was dropped on a tunnel complex used by so-called IS in Nangarhar province.
No civilians were affected by the explosion, the ministry said.
Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack as ‘an inhuman and most brutal misuse of our country’.
Chief executive of Afghanistan Abdullah Abdullah confirmed that the attack had been carried out in co-ordination with the government and that ‘great care had been taken to avoid civilian harm’.
The Afghan defence ministry said the bomb struck a village area in the Momand Valley where IS fighters were using a 300m-long network of caves.
It said the bomb also destroyed a large stash of weapons.
Presidential spokesman Shah Hussain Murtazawi said the IS commander Siddiq Yar was among those killed.
“The IS fighters in the tunnels had come from Pakistan and were persecuting people in the local area,” Mr Murtazawi said.
According to reports, the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb is the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used by the US in a conflict.
The bomb was dropped by plane in Achin district yesterday evening, the Pentagon said.
It is more than 9m in length and was first tested in 2003, but had not been deployed in combat before.
Achin district governor Ismail Shinwary said that Afghan special forces, with the help of American air support, had begun anti-IS operations in the area 13 days ago.
He said IS targets had been bombed regularly but last night’s bombarding was very powerful, the biggest he has ever seen.
Nangarhar Provincial Governor Gulab Mangal said IS fighters had used the complex to kill people and hold important meetings.
The US has yet to confirm the results of the strike but the country’s president Donald Trump called it another successful job.
The MOAB strike followed last week’s death of a US special forces soldier fighting IS in Nangarhar.
The news also came hours after the Pentagon admitted an air strike in Syria mistakenly killed 18 rebels.
It said a partnered force had mistakenly identified the target location as an IS position, but the strike on 11 April had killed rebels from the Syrian Democratic Forces, which are backed by Washington.