Suspected suicide bomb attack at Afghan air force base during Panetta visit
A member of NATO-led forces was injured in an “incident” as US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta arrived at a military base in Afghanistan Wednesday, the military said.
“At no point was the secretary or anyone on the aircraft in any danger from this incident,” the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement, adding that “the alleged perpetrator” had been detained.
In London, a government source said a vehicle drove onto the runway of the Camp Bastion military base in southern Helmand province and burst into flames as Panetta landed.
Britain’s Sky News said the incident was a suspected suicide car bomb attack, but the source said it was not immediately clear if that was the case.
“As he was landing a vehicle was driven onto the runway and was set on fire. The driver was badly burned,” the source told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The driver was a local man employed at the base.
Flights from Camp Bastion were restricted while it was investigated, but the restrictions were lifted later.
Panetta flew to Afghanistan just days after a soldier shot dead 16 villagers — most of them women and children — in Kandahar in the worst single such incident since the 2001 US-led invasion.
He held talks with provincial leaders and also addressed US, NATO and Afghan troops at Camp Leatherneck, a US camp in the Helmand desert which adjoins Britain’s Camp Bastion.
(Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta returned to the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center he championed as a congressman to praise the next generation of military linguists he called critical to the United States’ future. Photo by Presidio of Monterey: DLIFLC & USAG via Flickr)