Overnight, the United States dropped a massive GBU-43 bomb – widely known as the “mother of all bombs” – on a network of caves and tunnels used by Islamic State militants in eastern Afghanistan.
It’s the biggest non-nuclear weapon the U.S. has ever used in conflict.
The 9,797kg bomb was dropped from a U.S. aircraft around 7:32pm local time on Thursday, targeting a series of tunnels and caves in the Achin district in the Nangarhar province.
“As ISIS-K’s losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defence,” said General John Nicholson in a statement. “This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K.”
It is not yet known how much damage the bomb did. The Pentagon said in a statement that “U.S. Forces took every precaution to avoid civilian casualties with the strike.”
— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) April 13, 2017
The GBU-43 was first tested in March 2003, shortly before the start of the Iraq War. The Pentagon released the below test video.
Donald Trump praised the mission as “very successful”.
“Everybody knows exactly what happened and what I do is I authorise my military,” he told White House reporters. “We have the greatest military in the world and they’ve done their job as usual. So, we have given them total authorisation.”
Neither the US Central Command – which signed off the order – not the Pentagon have confirmed yet whether the President issued the order, or has given the military a general authorisation for such activities.