Panetta Safe After Incident at Bastion Airfield

Pentagon officials said a vehicle fire at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, on Wednesday appeared “to be unrelated” to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s visit. Initial press reports claimed that the driver of the vehicle may have intended to attack Panetta when the C-17 carrying Panetta arrived at the camp’s airfield. However, Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters traveling with the Secretary that there were no explosives found in the vehicle or on the driver. “At no time was the Secretary or the Secretary’s delegation in danger,” said Little. Defense officials said an Afghan male apparently stole a pickup truck and drove off with it at high speed on the airfield ramp, injuring a coalition member in the process. The pickup ended up in a ditch near where the C-17 was scheduled to park, they said. The driver was on fire for unknown reasons as he fled the vehicle. Security forces then apprehended him. He was being treated for his burns, they said. ISAF officials said the incident was under investigation. Panetta’s visit to the region came days after a US soldier allegedly killed 16 Afghan civilians. (AFPS report by Karen Parrish)