At least 36 ISIS fighters were killed Thursday when the U.S. dropped the “mother of all bombs” on a network of underground tunnels in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, Afghan officials said Friday.
The tunnels, which house the majority of the 600 to 800 ISIS fighters believed to be in the country, are used to launch attacks against Afghan forces. Previous attempts by the Afghans to advance on the area had failed, which is why the Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb was brought in. The largest nonnuclear bomb ever deployed in combat by the U.S., it was designed to create an enormous, concussive blast that’s particularly good at destroying underground positions. The bomb did just that, officials say, destroying three cave complexes and several weapons caches.
Officials say the bomb did not kill any civilians, but it was felt by many; windows broke and walls rattled tens of miles away. Residents living three miles away told the New York Times that their entire homes were destroyed.
One man living a mile and half away told the Guardian that he thought his own home was being bombed. “The earth felt like a boat in a storm,” Mohammad Shahzadah said. “Last year a drone strike targeted a house next to mine, but this time it felt like the heavens were falling.”
Naweed Shinwari, mayor of Achin district, where the tunnel complex is located, told the Guardian, “My relatives thought the end of the world had come.” He added that he didn’t think such a big bomb was necessary: “It terrorized our people.”
Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai shared a similar opinion on Twitter.
President Trump, meanwhile, described the bombing as “another successful event.” Asked if he authorized the bombing, he dodged the question and said, “What I do is I authorize my military. We have the greatest military in the world and they have done a job, as usual. We have given them total authorization.”