x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Soldier hurt in 'incident' as Panetta lands in Afghanistan

A member of Nato-led forces was injured in an incident as US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived at a military base in Afghanistan yesterday, the military said.

KABUL // A member of Nato-led forces was injured in an incident as US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived at a military base in Afghanistan yesterday, the military said.

"At no point was the secretary or anyone on the aircraft in any danger from this incident," the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said in a statement, addinga man had been detained.

In London, a government source said a vehicle drove onto the runway of the Camp Bastion military base in southern Helmand province and burst into flames as Mr Panetta landed.

Helmand is under control of British forces.

The incident comes days after a US soldier killed 16 civilians in neighbouring Kandahdar province, and weeks after the burning of Qurans by US troops triggered protests that killed dozens of Afghans and six US soldiers.

Britain's Sky News said the Helmand incident was a suspected suicide car bomb attack, but the source said it was not immediately clear if that was the case.

"As he was landing a vehicle was driven onto the runway and was set on fire. The driver was badly burnt," the source said on condition of anonymity.

The driver was a local man employed at the base.

Flights from Camp Bastion were restricted while it was investigated, but the restrictions were lifted later.

Mr Panetta met provincial leaders and also addressed US, Nato and Afghan troops at Camp Leatherneck, a US camp in the Helmand desert which adjoins Britain's Camp Bastion.