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  • The U.S. dropped a massive GBU-43 bomb, the largest non-nuclear bomb it has ever used in combat, in eastern Afghanistan on April 13th, 2017 on a series of caves used by Islamic State militants.
  • The weapon is known in the US Air Force by its nickname MOAB, or “mother of all bombs”. MOAB stands for massive ordnance air blast.
  • It was the first ever combat use of the bomb.

Also Read: India- Afghanistan: Redefining Relations

Impact

  • The impact of the device was not immediately clear. But it is believed that as many as 36 suspected Islamic State militants were killed in Afghanistan.
  • It was the first time the U.S. used a bomb of this size in a conflict.
  • The ordnance was dropped from an MC-130 aircraft in the Achin district of Nangarhar province, close to the border with Pakistan.
  • The GBU-43 is a 21,600 pound, 9,797 kg GPS-guided munition and was first tested shortly before the 2003 Iraq War, when it produced a mushroom cloud visible from 32 km away.
  • It costs around $16 million.
  • As it is GPS enabled, it can target with smarter and improved accuracy.
  • The deaths have not been independently verified, but ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri said no civilians were harmed in the massive blast that targeted a network of caves and tunnels.
  • The bomb’s destructive power, equivalent to 11 tonnes of TNT, pales in comparison with the relatively small atomic bombs dropped on Japan at the end of World War Two, which had blasts equivalent to between 15,000 and 20,000 tonnes of TNT.

Reason

  • According to the US, the strike was designed to minimize the risk to Afghan and U.S. forces conducting clearing operations in the Achin area, close to the Pakistan border “while maximizing the destruction” of IS fighters and facilities.
  • The remote border area with Pakistan has been known as a breeding ground for an ISIS affiliate called IS Khorosan.
  • The IS has been using improvised explosive devices, bunkers and tunnels to strengthen its defences.
  • The strike was part of a joint operation by Afghan and international troops, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s office said in a statement.

Source: The Hindu, Indian Express

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