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Two suicide bombers struck Afghanistan today, just hours after the new U.S. secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel, arrived for his first visit since taking the office.
According to The New York Times, the first blast occurred outside the Afghan defence ministry in Kabul, killing at least 10. A second took place in Khost Province in eastern Afghanistan, where the suicide bomber detonated before he reached his destination. However, eight children and a policeman were killed.
As The Associated Press notes, the blasts will serve as a reminder that the region is still unstable and that Hagel will have to face challenges similar to his predecessors.
The Taliban also took responsibility for the attack. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid called the attacks a “message” for Hagel in an email to the media.
Hagel was not near the locations of the blast, but did hear them. The Vietnam War veteran commented, “We're in a war zone. I've been in war, so shouldn't be surprised when a bomb goes off or there's an explosion.”
Prior to the bombings, journalists were getting together outside the defence ministry for a trip to Bagram Prison, which was being transferred to the Afghan government. This ceremony was scheduled for 2009, but was pushed back until today. Because of today’s events, the plans were cancelled again.
The 10 killed outside the defense ministry included two Afghan soldiers. There were also 14 hurt.