The top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan says that the decision to deploy one of the largest conventional bombs ever used in combat was purely tactical, and made as part of the campaign against Islamic State-linked fighters.
Nangarhar provincial spokesman Attaullah Khogyani, however, said some 90 terrorists were killed.
The strike using the Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, or MOAB, was carried out Thursday against an Islamic State group tunnel complex carved into the mountains that Afghan forces had tried to assault repeatedly in recent weeks in fierce fighting in Nangarhar province.
Public reaction to Thursday's strike has been mixed, with some residents near the blast praising Afghan and US troops for pushing back the Islamic State militants. A statement released Friday through ISIS' media wing, Amaq News Agency, said none of the terror group's fighters were killed or injured.
According to a previous statement by the US military, the MOAB attack was targeted at a tunnel complex in the remote eastern Nangarhar province near the border with Pakistan where ISIS militants are known to be based. The United States had dropped the "mother of all bombs" on their tunnels in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday. "We have the greatest military in the world, they've done a job, as usual, so we have given them total authorisation and that's what they're doing, and frankly, that's why they've been so successful lately", Trump reportedly said.
But the administration of President Ashraf Ghani had said earlier on Friday that the Afghan military authorities were working closely with US military forces in the country to coordinate operations against ISIS militants based in the area.
The dead included several leaders of the Islamic State affiliate, which is loosely connected to the main militant organization based in Iraq and Syria, Afghan officials said.
The almost 22,000-pound bomb is believed to have destroyed "large quantities" of weapons when it struck a network of tunnels, bunkers and other fortifications used by the offshoot group ISIS-K (for Khorasan province), according to an Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman.
The US dropped the bomb in order to curb the rising threat of ISIS-K in Afghanistan.
"This was the right weapon against the right target", Gen. John Nicholson, commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, told a news conference Friday.
The bombing came only a week after USA president Donald Trump ordered missile strikes against Syria in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack, and as China warned of the potential for conflict amid rising U.S. tensions with North Korea.
But former President Hamid Karzai accused the United States of using Afghanistan as "a testing ground for new and unsafe weapons".
But the group has been steadily losing ground in the face of heavy pressure both from USA air strikes and a ground offensive led by Afghan forces.
"I thought my house was being bombed".
"I have witnessed a countless number of explosions and bombings in the last 30 years of war in Afghanistan, but this one was more powerful than any other bomb as far as I remember".