Whilst UK PM David Cameron and US President Obama debate World issues during the current US visit, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta is in Afghanistan attempting a damage limitations exercise.
The latest tragedy in Afghanistan, which involved reportedly one rogue US soldier killing Afghan civilians as they slept, has left an increasing volatile situation on the ground. The US maintains that Panetta's Afghan visit had been planned for some time. Although that may be the case his arrival in Afghanistan today, March 14, 2012, could not have come at a more important time. It has been called by some in the media a surprise visit.
Today the Miami Herald reported that:
"Eight civilians were killed on Wednesday when their vehicle was hit by a massive roadside bomb in the Marjah district of Helmand province. A statement from the media office of Helmand’s governor, Mohammad Gulab Mangal, suggested the improvised explosive device, or IED, had been planted in an attempt to resist a poppy eradication program currently underway in the province.“Instead of disrupting the program, the bomb caused the death of innocent civilians,” the statement said. “The explosion was so big that no one could identify the bodies.” This is not the only attack today though.
At time of writing a suspected suicide car bomb attack has taken place on the runway of Camp Bastion, Afghanistan. Early reports indicate that a car was driven onto the runway where it burst into flames.The car driver is said to be receiving medical treatment. It has been stressed that no person on board Panetta's plane was at risk during this incident.
The BBC has reported Panetta as saying, of recent events such as the Koran burning and civilian murders, "As tragic as these acts of violence have been, they do not define the relationship between the coalition and Afghan forces, and the Afghan people." "It's important that we push on, and that we bring this war to a responsible end and achieve the mission that all of us are embarked on."
Just what that mission is escapes most ary Panetta, US, Afganistan,people.
Washington Post update here