Military dog unleashed on burning man in Panetta Afghan tarmac incident

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is greeted upon his arrival at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, March 14, 2012. Pool,AP Photo/Scott Olson

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is greeted upon his arrival at Camp Bastion
Leon Panetta arrives in at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan
AP Photo/Scott Olson, Pool

(CBS News) -- The bizarre story of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the burning man on the tarmac in Afghanistan has taken another strange turn: a heroic military dog was involved.

For those who've missed this strange but true story, here's a recap: as Panetta landed at Camp Bastion in southwest Afghanistan Wednesday, his plane was diverted to a different runway because of a security incident. Pentagon officials say an Afghan interpreter who worked at the base hijacked a pickup truck, tried (and failed) to run over a group of Marines stationed near Panetta's intended destination on the runway, and drove into a ditch.

When he emerged from the car the man was ablaze in flames, officials say, though they cannot say why.

The Pentagon insists there's no reason to believe the man intended to harm Panetta. (The traveling Pentagon press corps has made clear its extreme skepticism on that point given the timing and location of the incident.)

Now here's the latest twist: a senior defense official says a heroic military dog was sicced on the burning man and might even have dragged him from the vehicle. Dog lover alert: the dog sustained minor burns as he or she grappled with the burning man. The dog's breed is unknown at this time.

  • Chip Reid

    Chip Reid is CBS News' national correspondent.

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