Top U.S. Security Official Visits Kabul After Massive Bomb

H.R. McMaster, U.S. President Donald Trump's national security adviser, has arrived in Kabul just days after the U.S. military dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb on Islamic State (IS) group targets in eastern Afghanistan, killing nearly a hundred militants.

McMaster arrived in the Afghan capital on April 16 for talks with Afghan leaders as the Trump administration reviews its policy in Afghanistan.

Trump has yet to shed light about a broader strategy for Afghanistan, where some 8,400 U.S. troops remain. The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said recently that he needed several thousand more foreign troops in order to break a stalemate in the war with the Taliban.

McMaster said on Twitter that he was in Kabul for "very important talks on mutual cooperation."

Afghanistan's presidential palace tweeted that President Ashraf Ghani and McMaster "discussed bilateral ties, security, counterterrorism, reforms, [and] development" during the April 16 meeting.

On April 13, the U.S. military deployed the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb -- dubbed the Mother Of All Bombs -- in combat for the first time, hitting IS positions in eastern Nangarhar Province.

Afghan officials put the death toll to 94 militants and said there were no civilian casualties.

Ghani has voiced his support for the bombing, saying it was executed in coordination with Afghanistan's government. But some critics called the action "disproportionate."

Former President Hamid Karzai, a staunch critic of Washington and the Kabul government, called Ghani a "traitor" and declared that he would work toward "ousting the U.S." from Afghanistan.

"If the government has permitted them to do this, that was wrong and it has committed national treason," Karzai said during a public event on April 15.

Ghani's office replied to Karzai's charges with a statement saying: "Every Afghan has the right to speak their mind. This is a country of free speech."

IS has made inroads into Afghanistan in recent years, attracting disaffected members of the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban as well as foreign militants.

But the militant group has been steadily losing ground in the face of heavy pressure both from U.S. air strikes and a ground offensive conducted by the Afghan military.

The U.S. bombing came a week after Trump ordered missile strikes in 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.

With reporting by AFP