Vehicle Explodes on Afghan Runway; Panetta Safe

March 14, 2012 - 12:27 PM
Afghanistan US

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, listens to his Afghan counterpart Bismillah Mohammadi, unseen, during a meeting at interior ministry in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, March 14, 2012. U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and other U.S. officials say the shooting spree should not derail the U.S. and NATO strategy of a gradual withdrawal of troops by the end of 2014. But it has further soured relations with war-weary Afghans, jeopardizing the U.S. strategy of working closely with Afghan forces so they can take over their country's security. (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon says an Afghan drove an apparently stolen vehicle onto the ramp area of a British airfield in southern Afghanistan and into a ditch, where it exploded in flames, about the same time U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's aircraft was landing.

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. John Kirby, said no one in Panetta's party was injured.

Kirby said the vehicle, a pickup truck, drove at high speed onto the ramp where Panetta's plane was intended to stop. He said there was no immediate indication that the Afghan was attempting to attack Panetta's party, but the circumstances were still being pieced together.

Initial reports said no explosive devices were found in the vehicle or in a search of the driver.

Kirby said the driver was being treated for burn injuries.