IS death toll rises to 90 after huge USA bomb in Afghanistan

The largest non-nuclear bomb ever used by the USA military killed dozens of ISIS militants in a strike on a network of tunnels in Afghanistan, according to the Afghan defense ministry.

But Nangarhar Province spokesman Attaullah Khogyani said 90 IS fighters had died, while Achin district governor Esmail Shinwari said "at least 92 Daesh (another name for IS) fighters were killed in the bombing".

Thursday's strike killed 36 Islamic State militants, according to the Afghan Ministry of Defense. However, a statement released on Friday through IS' media wing, Amaq News Agency, said none of the terror group's fighters were killed or injured.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation commander in Afghanistan, US General John W Nicholson, said "it was the right time to use it tactically against the right target on the battlefield".

"We had persistent surveillance over the area before, during and after the operation, and now we have Afghan and USA forces on the site, and see no evidence of civilian casualties", Nicholson said. The sheer power of the blast would also be more effective in destroying underground tunnels carved out of the rocky terrain that other conventional bombs might not penetrate.

President Ashraf Ghani threw his support behind the bombardment, saying it was "designed to support the efforts of the Afghan National Security Forces and United States forces conducting clearance operations in the region".

Why was the area targeted?

US forces and Afghan commandos are seen in Asad Khil near the site of a USA bombing in the Achin district of Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, April 17, 2017.

Former president Hamid Karzai slammed government over the move and said it had been nothing more than a weapons of mass destruction test and that it had been in violation of Afghanistan's national sovereignty.

The U.S. military has identified the opium-rich province of Nangarhar as ISIS's primary stronghold in the Afghanistan region.

The president praised the deployment of the MOAB as a successful mission for the US military.

"The earth felt like a boat in a storm", one villager who lived near the blast told The Guardian. "We thought it had happened right in front of our house", he said. He said he could see smoke in the sky.

The organization announced the establishment of its Khorasan branch, covering Afghanistan and Pakistan, in January 2015.

Haji Mohammad Sadeq, another tribal elder said civilians in the immediate area of the Islamic State hideout "left the area long ago", while others who remained were alerted by Afghan forces through mosques.

Locals told CNN that more than 3,000 families had fled the district in the past year or so since the militant group established its presence.