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Suicide Attack?': Afghan Truck Explodes On Runway as Defense Sec. Plane Lands

The Sun: "Sources at the scene claim it was a suicide attack" Daily Mail: Driver was Afghan employed on the base WaPo: Stole vehicle from NATO soldier -- Twenty-two suspected terrorists arrested: Allegedly hired by Iran to attack US, Israel --

  • Truck drives at high speed onto British airfield runway and explodes as Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta was landing for surprise trip
  • Panetta not injured
  • Some outlets reporting it was a suicide attack and the man driving was an Afghan national employed on the base

WASHINGTON (The Blaze/AP) -- The Pentagon says an Afghan drove an apparently stolen vehicle onto the ramp area of a British airfield in southern Afghanistan and into a ditch, where it exploded in flames, about the same time U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's aircraft was landing.

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. John Kirby, said no one in Panetta's party was injured.

Kirby said the vehicle, a pickup truck, drove at high speed onto the ramp where Panetta's plane was intended to stop. He said there was no immediate indication that the Afghan was attempting to attack Panetta's party, but the circumstances were still being pieced together.

According to the the British outlet The Sun, "sources at the scene claim it was a suicide attack — but those allegations have not yet been officially confirmed." The Daily Mail reports the person driving the vehicle was employed at the base, although that has yet to be confirmed also, and the base was placed on lockdown.

The Washington Post says the man stole the truck from a NATO soldier on the base, and that the soldier was injured in the carjacking.

Initial reports said no explosive devices were found in the vehicle or in a search of the driver. Kirby said the driver was being treated for burn injuries.

The incident comes on the heels of U.S. officials burning Korans that were being used to pass secret messages and the apparent actions of a rogue U.S. soldier who went on a shooting rampage killing 16 Afghans.

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