Panetta: I Don't Believe I Was a Target

Thursday, 15 Mar 2012 11:50 AM

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Defense Secretary Leon Panetta does not believe he was the target of an Afghan man who drove a stolen pickup truck onto a landing strip as his plane was arriving. However, the man worked as an interpreter for coalition forces and may have known someone important was arriving, The New York Times reported.

“I have absolutely no reason to believe that any of this was directed at me,” Panetta said of the incident at Camp Bastion according to the Times, adding that “whatever happened here was directed at others who were there on the field, not me or my plane or anything associated with me.”

The man apparently tried to run over a group of Marines before crashing the truck and emerging from the truck on fire. He later died of his injuries.

No explosive were discovered in the car and officials said the man was not wearing a suicide vest. However, Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti said that “some kind of container,” which may have had fuel in it, was found in the truck, the Times reported.

The incident occurred at Camp Bastion, a British military airfield next to Camp Leatherneck, a United States Marine base. Scaparrotti said that after trying to run down the Marines, the man drove into a ditch. Witnesses saw a “puff of smoke” from the before the man emerged, engulfed in flames, the Times reported.

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