By photojournalist Guy Smallman, who has visited Nangarhar province several times
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2549

‘I’ve been to the area where the MOAB bomb was dropped. Civilians will have died’

This article is over 6 years, 10 months old
Issue 2549
Nangahar is a poor rural area. These are the sort of people the MOAB will have affected
Nangarhar is a poor rural area. These are the sort of people the MOAB will have affected (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Claims by the US Air Force on Friday that dropping a Massive Ordnance Air Burst (MOAB) bomb would have avoided civilian casualties are absurd.

Nangarhar province, which borders Pakistan, is typical of rural areas in Afghanistan. It consists of small farming communities and is desperately poor. Just 8 percent of households in Nangarhar have clean drinking water and most have no mains electricity.

Armed anti-government forces across Afghanistan have long based themselves in rural areas among the civilian population. The villages in question are beyond the reach of the authorities and the locals end up hosting insurgent groups often reluctantly.

The Momand Dara district where Trump’s weapon of mass destruction was dropped is home to over 42,000 people.

The bomb itself would have killed everything within a mile of its detonation and caused serious injury much further afield with an explosion equivalent to 11 tons of TNT. The claims that just 36 Isis fighters died are preposterous

Despite being sworn enemies of the bomb’s intended targets, the Taliban have condemned the attack which could not have come at a worse time for their already faltering peace talks with the Afghan government.

Children in Nangahar
Children in Nangahar (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Trump’s claim that his attack in eastern Afghanistan has struck a blow against Isis is a massive lie.

Firstly the Afghan branch of the so-called Islamic State has no actual connection to its namesake in Iraq and Syria other than a claim to the same brand.

The group is attached to sectarian Islamists in Pakistan and is better known for targeting Shia Muslim civilians than foreign interests.

In 2016 a suicide attack killed over 80 Afghans from the mainly Shia Hazara tribe when they were protesting in Kabul against discrimination. Not long after a further 30 Shia worshippers were killed in a bomb attack against one of their Mosques.

The main Taliban groups have been fighting a guerrilla war against the Afghan Isis group in tandem with their ongoing insurgency against the Afghan government.

See more of Guy Smallman’s pictures from Afghanistan at

Sign up for our daily email update ‘Breakfast in Red’

Latest News

Make a donation to Socialist Worker

Help fund the resistance