Afghan Security Forces say that initial reports showing just 36 ISIS fighters were killed when the United States dropped the MOAB are woefully low. As the combined U.S. and Afghan bomb damage assessment teams clear the now devastated enemy stronghold, they continue to find even more bodies buried in the rubble.
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The United States dropped the GBU-43B, the largest non-nuclear weapon in the military’s arsenal, on Wednesday. Known as the MOAB or Mother of All Bombs, the device struck an ISIS stronghold in the Nangarhar province of eastern Afghanistan. The terror group was using the desolate mountainous area to stage ambushes and to hide fighters moving across the border with Pakistan. The are is riddled with caves and tunnels where the insurgents hide, some believed to be buried more than 50 yards inside the mountain.
“This was the first time that we encountered an extensive obstacle to our progress,” top U.S. general in Afghanistan Gen. John Nicholson told reporters Friday. He continued, “It was the right time to use it tactically against the right target on the battlefield.”
Designed to detonate six feet before impacting the ground, the MOAB can collapse underlying tunnels or caves, and that’s exactly what the damage assessment teams are finding. Afghan officials reported they found “twenty-two bodies were found in one cave, sixty in another, and 10 in a third” although that number is still climbing.
The current estimate is that 94 ISIS terrorists were killed in the blast, of an estimate 800 ISIS fighters in Afghanistan according to the CIA.
On the other side of the Pakistani border, villagers assumed they were under attack. The blast was so loud they believed the Americans were targeting terrorists in Pakistan.
“I was sleeping when we heard a loud explosion. It was an earsplitting blast,” Shah Wali told reporters from the AP. Wali lives 9 miles from the border with Nangarhar. “I jumped from my bed and came out of my home to see what has gone wrong in our village.”
Gen. Daulat Waziri, spokesman for the Afghanistan Ministry of Defense, said the 11 ton blast destroyed several caves and ammunition caches.
“It was a strong position and four times we had operations (attacking the site) and it was not possible to advance,” he said. His forces had difficulty even getting to the site, as the roads in were full of mines.
One of the reasons the body count continues to rise is the devastating combination of effects from the MOAB’s designed explosion:
In the milliseconds following the initial blast in Afghanistan, all the oxygen would have been forced out of the tunnels and for hundreds of feet around, literally sucking the life out of ISIS terrorists, suffocating them as their lungs imploded.
Then, in a flash the fiery shockwave would have radiated outwards at the speed of sound for up to a mile, causing huge blunt force trauma injuries to anyone caught in its path, leveling buildings and trees.
Ears would have been left bleeding and internal organs battered by the sheer force of the shockwave.
The blast would also have caused many within two miles of the blast to lose their hearing.
Anyone caught inside the tunnels would have been crushed as the force of 19,000 pounds of highly complex explosives caused them to collapse on top of the ISIS terrorists.