Military: Afghan "intended harm" in runway attack

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta waves as he prepares to leave Afghanistan March 15, 2012, in Kabul, Afghanistan.
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(CBS/AP) The Pentagon said there is reason to believe an Afghan who died after breaching a British airfield's runway in a stolen pickup truck ahead of Leon Panetta's arrival Wednesday "intended harm" but likely wasn't targeting the U.S. defense secretary.

Pentagon spokesman Capt. John Kirby said the military has "no reason to believe" the man, who died Thursday, knew about the military chief's visit to Camp Bastion in Helmand province. Media members traveling with Panetta have expressed skepticism on that point, given the timing and location of the incident.

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The Afghan, identified by military officials as a contract translator, had stolen the truck about a half-hour before he breached the area where Panetta's plane was expected to land, causing the welcoming party to scramble out of the way. The truck went into a ditch, and witnesses later described that they saw a flash inside the cab. A container of gasoline was found inside the cab, prompting the Pentagon to conclude that it caused the fire that fatally burned the Afghan.

No explosives were found on the Afghan, and he had no weapon, Kirby said.

No one in Panetta's party was hurt.

Panetta told reporters that he did not believe he was the target. The defense secretary said he was told before landing that the aircraft was being diverted to another landing site, but that he was not aware of the crash until later.

Authorities were not able to talk to or get any information from the driver before he died.

A British soldier was injured when he tried to stop the driver from stealing the truck on the base. The Afghan man hit the British soldier with the truck as he was driving away.

CBS News correspondents David Martin, reporting from Washington, D.C., and Chip Reid, traveling with Panetta, contributed to this report.