Suicide attack at site of Panetta visit
An American service member was killed and three others were wounded Thursday afternoon when a suicide bomber rammed a car packed with explosives into a heavily armored military vehicle just outside a base where US Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta had been visiting troops earlier in the day.
The attack outside Kandahar Airfield, a heavily-guarded base in Kandahar province, underscored the tenuous security in the country's south, the Taliban's heartland, as the U.S. military footprint continues to thin out. Two Afghan civilians were killed and several were wounded by the blast, local officials said.
The bombing happened about 5 p.m., just a few hours after Panetta had been at the base thanking troops for their service during a wind-chilled outdoor ceremony. It was the second major security incident this year to cast a pall on a Panetta visit to Afghanistan. When the secretary was last here, in May, a suspected insurgent rammed a stolen vehicle into an airfield shortly after Panetta landed and tried to attack the visiting delegation.
After returning to Kabul on Thursday, Panetta met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai to discuss the size and type of U.S. military force that might remain in place after the end of the American combat mission in Afghanistan in December 2014.
"We now have an opportunity to make these gains lasting," the secretary said during a joint news conference at the presidential palace. "We must be bold enough to seize the opportunity."
Panetta and U.S. commanders have struck an upbeat tone about the progress of the war, saying that American forces are increasingly stepping into support roles and leaving the front lines to Afghan troops. But Panetta said the conflict remains tough.
"These are long-term challenges," he said. "This is a war we're engaged in."
Panetta said the Obama administration will host Karzai in Washington the week of Jan. 7 to discuss final details of a security agreement that could spell out the terms of continued U.S. military presence here beyond 2014. The two leaders declined to discuss the troop levels under consideration.
- - -
Kevin Sieff in Kabul contributed to this report.
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY - An outstanding high level opportunity...