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Image: Photo by Pool/Getty Images Europe

A tense visit to Afghanistan by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta got off to an unscripted start when a stolen truck sped onto a runway ramp at the British military airfield as his plane was landing. Mr. Panetta was unhurt but Pentagon officials said the Afghan driver emerged from the vehicle in flames.

No explosives were found on the Afghan national or in the truck, the officials said, and the Pentagon was so far not considering the episode an attack on Mr. Panetta. But it reinforced the lack of security in Afghanistan at the start of his visit, the first by a senior member of the Obama administration since an American soldier reportedly killed 16 Afghan civilians, mostly children and women, in Kandahar Province in southern Afghanistan. The two-day trip, unannounced as usual for security reasons, had been planned months ago, but has taken on a new urgency since the Sunday massacre.

Read the rest of Elisabeth Bumiller’s article at the N.Y. Times.

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