– Car bursts into flames on runway
– Fears Leon Panetta’s plane was target
By DAVID WILLETTS
US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta is feared to have been the target of a suicide attack at Camp Bastion today.
A vehicle got on to the runway and burst into flames as Mr Panetta’s plane landed in Afghanistan this morning.
The suspected attack also hurt a British squaddie but the extent of the injuries are currently unknown.
The drama unfolded just hours ago on the sprawling base — Britain’s main outpost in the warzone.
Defence supremo Mr Panetta flew into Afghanistan today to quell fears after a US soldier went on the rampage killing 16 innocent Afghans.
But as his plane was landing a vehicle appeared on the runway and subsequently caught fire.
Sources at the scene claim it was a suicide attack — but those allegations have not yet been officially confirmed.
An individual inside the vehicle is receiving medical care for burns, sources say.
The camp went into immediate lockdown and an investigation has been launched.
An Afghani is believed to have made the deliberate attempt on Mr Panetta after he broke through defences and drove a vehicle towards his aircraft.
He then went past the perimeter surrounded by armed security and large concrete block guards.
Disaster was only averted when the truck caught fire and crashed into a ditch on the runway close to where Mr Panetta’s jet had landed or was set to land.
First reports suggest there was no explosives device inside the vehicle.
But it is thought the car was heading towards a welcoming committee for Mr Panetta.
However it then burst into flames — possibly after being shot at — and the alleged perpetrator was arrested by security teams.
An ISAF spokesperson said: “We are aware of an incident today at Camp Bastion where a vehicle caught on fire. The driver of the vehicle is being medically treated.
“We are currently investigating to determine more facts of this incident.
“At no point was anyone on the aircraft at danger from this incident.”
The visit was unannounced and shrouded in secrecy until he safely touched down.