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Explosion Rocks Defense Chief’s Afghan Trip

March 14, 2012 by staff 

Explosion Rocks Defense Chief’s Afghan Trip, Questions about the continuing role of international forces in Afghanistan against the backdrop of diminishing local support predominated Wednesday during separate and unannounced visits by the US and German defence chiefs.

The visits came just days after 16 Afghans were shot dead allegedly by a rogue US soldier. They also came against the backdrop of two explosions in the country’s south that killed nine people Wednesday, officials said.

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta met with Afghan officials in the southern province of Helmand on Wednesday in Shorab military camp, the provincial governor’s office said. There was a brief disturbance when a car burst into flames on the runway of a military base as Panetta’s plane was preparing for landing, according to British press reports.

The BBC and the Press Association said the driver of the vehicle was injured and was being treated at the Camp Bastion hospital, the main British base in southern Helmand, where US troops are also stationed.

‘At no point was anyone on board Panetta’s plane at risk,’ the BBC quoted a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) force as saying:

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