By Jennifer Rowland | AfPak Channel | In Kabul on Saturday, a suicide bomber detonated his vest outside the Afghan Ministry of Defense just hours after U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel arrived in the country, killing at least 10 people (NYT, NYT, AP, AJE). Shortly after that attack, another suicide bomber detonated his vest just before he reached a joint Afghan-American checkpoint in the eastern province of Khost, killing eight children and one policeman. Both attacks appeared to have been timed to coincide with Hagel's visit, his first as Secretary of Defense.
Further darkening Hagel's visit to Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai asserted during an early-morning news conference that the United States is effectively colluding with the Taliban in order to perpetuate the conflict and justify the continued presence of U.S. forces in Afghanistan (NYT, WSJ, BBC, Post, Guardian, Reuters, AP, VOA). Karzai also accused the United States of sending mixed messages by calling the Taliban the enemy, while at the same time holding negotiations with the insurgent group "every day." And he called dismal predictions about the country's future "negative propaganda" created by and dispersed through Western media outlets. (READ MORE)