Addressing a press conference in Kabul on Friday afternoon, U.S Forces-Afghanistan Commander General John Nicholson said Thursday night’s strike in Achin district in Nangarhar was part of their campaign to destroy Daesh in Afghanistan in 2017.
He said the weapon used, the GBU-43, was designed to destroy caves and tunnels and that this had been the “right weapon against the right target.”
“I want to assure you that our forces took every possible precaution to prevent civilian casualties.”
“We have U.S Forces at the site and we see no evidence of civilian casualties nor have there been reports,” Nicholson said.
He blasted Daesh for the atrocities they had carried out including suicide bombers attacking peaceful demonstrations, the killing and wounding of hundreds of people, and suicide attacks against mosques.
“ISIS-K (Daesh) has dragged elders out of their homes in Nangarhar, beheaded them in front of their families.
“ISIS-K kidnapped wives and daughters and forced them to marry fighters,” he said.
“Afghan Army and Commandos are leading this fight against these barbaric terrorists on behalf of the people of Afghanistan,” he stated.
He made it clear there will be no sanctuary for Daesh in Afghanistan and said: “We are committed to Afghanistan in this fight.”
“We are united with the Afghan government to prevent terrorists from establishing safe havens in Afghanistan.
He said the U.S. coordinated with the government on Thursday’s strike, “just as we have since we started this operation in early March.”
“Let me be clear: We will not relent in our mission to destroy ISIS-K (Daesh) in 2017.”
“We will work shoulder to shoulder with Afghan partners and use every means at our disposal to eliminate this threat,” he stated.
The Ministry of Defense spokesman Dawlat Waziri also addressed the press conference and said the public needs to know it was not a nuclear bomb so it has no impact on agriculture or people’s health in the region.
He said the only thing that threatens people’s lives in the area is Daesh.
He also reconfirmed earlier reports that there had been no civilian casualties.
According to him, the bomb caused heavy damage to the Daesh stronghold but that once investigations have been completed government will share their findings on Daesh casualties.
The U.S bombing on Achin meanwhile drew sharp criticism from some sectors across the country.
The office of Hamid Karzai, the former president of Afghanistan, said in a statement the bombing was merely carried out to test a weapon of mass destruction.
“We denounce the attack. It is not a fight against terrorism. Using such a bomb is against humanity and it is a misuse of Afghanistan’s soil for testing dangerous weapons,” the statement read.
The Taliban also issued a statement in which they denounced the attack.
“Preventing Daesh from making strongholds in Afghanistan is the job of Afghans. They (foreigners) kill people under the name of Daesh and test their weapons,” the statement said.
Habiburrahman Hekmatyar, the son of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, also reacted to the incident. He said on his facebook page: “Taliban and Daesh were good friends in the past, but today they are an enemy of each other. They are the reason for U.S presence in Afghanistan. They themselves kill Afghans and also give a reason to U.S to kill the people.”
Omar Zakhilwal, Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan, meanwhile said on his twitter page: “I find the use of the largest non- nuclear bomb, the so called "mother of all bombs", on our soil reprehensible and counterproductive.
“If big bombs were the solution we would be the most secure place on earth today.”