Afghanistan shouldn’t be a ‘testing ground for new and dangerous weapons’

MOAB attack: Condemnation, praise over massive bombing

Afghanistan shouldn’t be a ‘testing ground for new and dangerous weapons’ Hamid Karzai says after US drops mega-bomb.

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has condemned the US military’s deployment of the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat, saying Afghanistan should not be used as a “testing ground” for weapons.

The 9,797kg GBU-43 – nicknamed the “mother of all bombs” – was dropped on Thursday from a MC-130 aircraft in Achin district of Nangarhar province, close to the border with Pakistan, according to the Pentagon.

The target was a series of caves and bunkers used by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Afghan officials said the massive blast killed at least 36 fighters and destroyed the deep tunnel complex.

In a series of Twitter posts, Karzai said: “This is not the war on terror but the inhuman and most brutal misuse of our country as testing ground for new and dangerous weapons.”

“It is upon us Afghans to stop the USA,” he said.

A current Afghan official also denounced the bombing.

“I find the use of the largest non-nuclear bomb, the so called ‘mother of all bombs’, on our soil reprehensible & counterproductive,” Omar Zakhilwal, the Afghan envoy to Pakistan, also said on Twitter.

“If big bombs were the solution, we would be the most secure place on earth today.”

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s office said in a statement the US attack was a part of a joint operation by Afghan and international troops.

“Afghan and foreign troops closely coordinated this operation and were extra cautious to avoid any civilian casualties,” it said.

US President Donald Trump called Thursday’s operation a “very, very successful mission”.

Towering flames

The ultra-heavy explosive is equal to 11 tonnes of TNT with a blast radius of 1.6km.

At a village 5km from the remote, mountainous area where the bomb was dropped, witnesses said the ground shook from shockwaves, but homes and shops appeared unaffected.

“Last night’s bomb was really huge. When it dropped, everywhere, it was shaking,” resident Palstar Khan told Reuters news agency, adding he believed no civilians were in the area hit.

He praised the strike, saying killing ISIL fighters was a “positive move”.

“The explosion was the biggest I have ever seen. Towering flames engulfed the area,” local governor Esmail Shinwari told AFP news agency.

Inamullah Meyakhil, spokesman for a hospital in eastern Nangarhar, said the facility had received no dead or wounded from the attack.

ISIL denied it suffered any casualties. “Security source to Amaq agency denies any dead or wounded from yesterday’s American strike in Nangarhar using a GBU-43/B,” the group’s self-styled news agency said on social media accounts. ISIL rarely admits losses after such attacks.

The Taliban, meanwhile, condemned the bombing.

“Using this massive bomb cannot be justified and will leave a material and psychological impact on our people,” the armed group said in a statement.

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