Afghan officials say the number of Islamic State (IS) group fighters killed in an attack by the most powerful nonnuclear weapon ever used in combat by the U.S. military has risen to 94.
The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb -- dubbed the Mother Of All Bombs -- was deployed in combat for the first time on April 13, hitting IS positions in eastern Nangarhar Province.
Provincial Governor Muhammad Ismail Shinwari said on April 15 that four key commanders were among the militants killed. Shinwari said no civilian casualties were inflicted as civilians living in the area of the bombing had been evacuated by the Afghan military.
Shinwari's spokesman, Ataullah Khogyani, said that a clearance operation in the area was continuing.
Afghanistan's Defense Ministry reported on April 14 that 36 IS fighters had been killed in the bombing in Achin district, which targeted a tunnel complex used a as a command center and ammuntions depot by the IS which had been mined against conventional ground attacks.
The massive bomb was deployed after fighting intensified over the past week and U.S.-backed ground forces struggled to advance on the area, where a U.S. special forces soldier was killed on April 8.
The blast triggered shock waves in Afghanistan, with some condemning the use of Afghanistan as what they called a testing ground for the weapon, and against a militant group that is not considered a threat as big as the resurgent Taliban.
President Ashraf Ghani voiced his support for the bombing, saying it was executed in coordination with Afghanistan's government and was "designed to support the efforts of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and U.S. forces conducting clearance operations in the region."
But some critics called the action "disproportionate."
Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the use of the bomb on Afghan soil. "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," he said on Twitter.
IS has made inroads into Afghanistan in recent years, attracting disaffected members of the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban as well as Uzbek Islamists.
But the militant group has been steadily losing ground in the face of heavy pressure both from U.S. air strikes and a ground offensive conducted by the Afghan military.
With additional reporting by AP, dpa, and AFP