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December 13th, 2012
02:24 PM ET

Bombing at NATO base in Kandahar shortly after Panetta departure

A suicide bomber set off a bomb that struck a vehicle outside the Kandahar airbase hours after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta departed. CNN's Erin Burnett reports.

Programming Note: Erin Burnett is live from Kabul at 7p ET with an exclusive interview with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on the future of Afghanistan and the ongoing fight against al Qaeda.

Taliban claim bombing killing American, Afghans

At least three people died when a suicide bomb exploded near Afghanistan's Kandahar airfield Thursday, hours after U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had left the city.

One American was killed and three others were wounded, Panetta said. Two Afghan civilians were killed and 18 others were wounded, said Jawid Faisal, a spokesman for the governor of Kandahar province, in the country's violent southern region.

The attack struck an MRAP, the acronym for a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle used by U.S. forces, as it was about to enter the base.

The Taliban claimed responsibility, the group's spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said in an e-mail CNN obtained. He wrote that a "brave Taliban fighter" carried out the attack. The e-mail did not specify whether the explosion was connected to Panetta's visit.

The defense secretary's delegation was never in danger, said a U.S. official traveling with Panetta.

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