Suicide bomb hits Kabul as Hagel visits

2013-03-09 10:39
Chuck Hagel (Picture: AP)

Chuck Hagel (Picture: AP)

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Kabul - A suicide bomber on a bicycle struck outside the Afghan defence ministry on Saturday, one of two attacks that killed at least 18 people as US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel visited the nation, officials said.

Nine people were killed in the bombing at the ministry, a fresh reminder that insurgents continue to fight and challenges remain as the US-led Nato force hands over the country's security to the Afghans.

About a half-hour later, another suicide bomber attacked a police checkpoint in Khost, the capital of Khost province in eastern Afghanistan. An Afghan policeman and eight civilians, who were mostly children, died in that blast, said provincial spokesperson Baryalai Wakman.

"We are still at war," Hagel said after he arrived on Friday, the same day that three men wearing Afghan army uniforms and driving an Afghan army vehicle forced their way onto a US base in eastern Afghanistan and opened fire, killing one civilian contractor and wounding other US troops.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the morning attack at the ministry, saying it was meant to send a signal to the US defence chief. "This attack was a message to him," Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said in an e-mail to reporters.

Pentagon spokesperson George Little said Hagel was in a briefing at a US-led military coalition facility in another part of the city when the explosion occurred. He said the briefing continued without interruption.


Read more on:    taliban  |  nato  |  chuck hagel  |  us  |  afghanistan

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