By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service
KABUL, Afghanistan, March 9, 2013 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was in a briefing at a NATO International Security Assistance Force facility here today when a suicide bomber detonated a car bomb outside the Afghan Defense Ministry just before 9 a.m. local time.
The attack killed nine and injured 14, according to first reports from Afghan officials. The initial blast was followed by small-arms fire. ISAF officials said no coalition troops were directly involved.
Later in the day during a visit to Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan, Hagel told reporters traveling with him that he wasn’t sure what the blast was when he first heard it.
“I was in a briefing – but we’re in a war zone,” the secretary said. “I’ve been in a war. So you shouldn’t be surprised when a bomb goes off.”
Hagel, a Vietnam War veteran who earned two Purple Hearts in combat during that conflict, said such “spectacular” attacks make no difference to U.S. or ISAF strategy in Afghanistan.
“We’re going to continue to work with the Afghans and coalition partners to fight that war, and to assure that the Afghan people have every ability and right to develop their own country in their own way, in a democracy,” he said.
The secretary today also visited U.S. conventional and special operations forces leaders and spoke to U.S. troops.