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Truck crashes at Afghan airport as Panetta arrives

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 14, 2012

An Afghan civilian stole a pickup truck and drove it onto an airfield where Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's plane was landing in Afghanistan, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

The civilian crashed the truck in a ditch, exited the vehicle and caught on fire.

The cause of the fire is unknown. Explosives were not found on the man or the vehicle, said Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. John Kirby.

"At no time was the secretary's safety in danger," he said.

It is not known if the civilian's actions were intended to protest the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.

Capt. Kirby said the civilian stole the truck from a NATO troop, who was injured during the theft. The troop, who is not American, was hit by truck and was being treated for injuries.

The incident happened around the time Mr. Panetta's C-17 aircraft was landing at Camp Bastion.

The vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed across an airport ramp before it ran into the ditch, Capt. Kirby said.

The driver was being treated for burns at the airport. It was not clear if he was an airport worker.

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