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Monday 26 June 2017

Death toll from massive US bomb attack on IS in Afghanistan rises to 94

US forces struck an Islamic State tunnel complex in eastern Afghanistan with 'the mother of all bombs' (AP)
US forces struck an Islamic State tunnel complex in eastern Afghanistan with 'the mother of all bombs' (AP)

The number of militants killed in an attack with the largest non-nuclear weapon ever used in combat by the US military has risen to 94, an Afghan official has said.

Ataullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor in Nangarhar, said the number of Islamic State group dead was up from the 36 reported a day earlier.

A Ministry of Defence official said on Friday that the number of dead could rise as officials assessed the bomb site in Achin district.

"Fortunately there is no report of civilians being killed in the attack," Mr Khogyani said.

The increased death toll in Nangarhar was announced as officials in southern Helmand province reported that at least 11 civilians were killed and one wounded in two roadside bomb blasts overnight.

The US attack on a tunnel complex in remote eastern Nangarhar province near the Pakistan border killed at least four IS group leaders, Mr Khogyani said. He said a clearance operation to assess the site of the attack was continuing.

The strike using the Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, or MOAB, known as the Mother Of All Bombs, was carried out Thursday against an Islamic State group tunnel complex carved into the mountains which Afghan forces had tried to assault repeatedly in recent weeks during fierce fighting in Nangarhar province.

On Saturday, former Afghan president Hamid Karzai criticised both the Afghan and US governments for the attack. Addressing a gathering in the capital, Kabul, Mr Karzai said that allowing the USto carry out the bombing was "a national treason" and an insult to Afghanistan.

Current President Ashraf Ghani's office said on Friday that there was "close co-ordination" between the US military and the Afghan government on the operation, and they were careful to prevent any civilian casualties.

The US estimates 600-800 IS fighters are in Afghanistan, mostly in Nangarhar. America has concentrated on fighting them while also supporting Afghan forces against the Taliban. The US has more than 8,000 US troops in Afghanistan, training local forces and conducting counter-terrorism operations.

In Helmand province, at least 11 civilians were killed and one injured in two roadside bomb blasts late on Friday evening, said Omar Zwak, spokesman for the provincial governor.

"All victims of the attack were innocent civilians including women and children," he said.

The 11 died in a blast in Nawa district when their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb.

Another person was wounded when a second bomb exploded in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand, he said.

Also on Saturday, Mr Khogyani said a district leader and three others were injured when their vehicle was targeted by a bomb. One of the wounded was Bati Kot district chief Ghalib Mujahid, he said.

"The district chief and others are out of danger and are not in life-threatening condition," he said.

Last November, Mr Mujahid was attacked by a sticky bomb attached to the vehicle. He was wounded and his driver was killed.

AP

Press Association

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