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In a highly unusual move, around 200 U.S. Marines were asked to leave their weapons outside the tent where U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was set to speak during his trip to Afghanistan on Wednesday.
Although the military said the order was not given in response to Sunday's shooting of 16 Afghan civilians allegedly by an American soldier, it possibly underlined how high tensions were running after the incident.
He said he had given the order because the two dozen Afghan soldiers also there were unarmed and he did not want to treat them differently.
were abruptly asked by their commander to get up, place their weapons — M-16 and M-4 automatic rifles and 9-mm pistols — outside the tent and then return unarmed. The commander, Sgt. Maj. Brandon Hall, told reporters he was acting on orders from superiors.
“All I know is, I was told to get the weapons out,” he said. Asked why, he replied, “Somebody got itchy, that’s all I’ve got to say. Somebody got itchy; we just adjust.” www.nytimes.com...
Normally, American forces in Afghanistan keep their weapons when the defense secretary visits and speaks to them. The Afghans in the tent had not been armed to begin with, as is typical.
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
I wanted to have the Marines look just like their Afghan partners,”