Afghan in Panetta Truck Blast Dies

Man was probably not targeting Panetta, official says
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 15, 2012 6:39 AM CDT
Updated Mar 15, 2012 7:32 AM CDT
Afghan in Panetta Truck Blast Dies
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is greeted by Col. John Shafer after arriving to greet troops at Foward Operating Base Shukvani, Afghanistan, Wednesday, March 14, 2012.   (AP Photo/Scott Olson, Pool)

(Newser) – The Afghan man who drove onto the runway of a US base where Leon Panetta's plane was landing and then crashed into a ditch has died. The man emerged from the vehicle after the crash engulfed it in flames and was doused by security personnel, then treated at a military medical facility, but he died this morning of burn injuries, the Wall Street Journal reports. He was carrying a canister with fuel that apparently ignited after the crash, the Los Angeles Times notes. "We don't know his intent, we don't know what triggered this," says a US Army lieutenant general, adding that he does not think the man was targeting Panetta.

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He does, however, believe the man "had an attempt to harm," he says. "I think, frankly, he tried to hit the people on the ramp." The man was a contract interpreter for the military, and military officials say he was aiming for the group of US Marines who were on the runway to meet Panetta, but missed them before driving into the ditch. Before he made it onto the runway, the man injured a British soldier while attempting to run him over with the stolen truck. The man died before officials could question him. (Read more Leon Panetta stories.)

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