Afghanistan

Taliban Suicide Bomber Misses VP, Kills at Least 14 in Bagram Blowup; Cheney Declares "Breakfast Was Excellent"

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While the fact that the killer didn't get near his target, this isn't exactly the sort of report that inspires confidence either:

A suicide bomber attacked the entrance to the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan Tuesday during a visit by Vice President Dick Cheney, killing at least 14 people and wounding a dozen more. The Taliban claimed responsibility and said Cheney was the target.

Cheney's spokeswoman said he was fine, and the vice president later met with President Hamid Karzai in the capital, Kabul, before leaving the country….

The sprawling base houses 5,100 U.S. troops and 4,000 other coalition forces and contractors. High security areas within the base are blocked by their own checkpoints. It was unclear how an attacker could expect to penetrate the base, locate the vice president and get close to him without detection….

Cheney, who spent the night at Bagram, left the base about two hours after the 10 a.m. blast. The explosion sent up a plume of smoke visible by reporters inside the base traveling with Cheney, and American military officials declared a "red alert" inside the base.

Earlier, he ate with soldiers, telling reporters that "breakfast was excellent" but making no other comments….

Five years after their fundamentalist regime was toppled, Taliban-led militants have stepped up attacks and Afghan, U.S. and NATO forces are bracing for a fresh wave of violence in the spring.

There were 139 suicide bombings last year, a five-fold increase over 2005, and Maj. Gen. David Rodriguez has said he expects the number of suicide bombs to rise even further in 2007.

More here.

There's about 50,000 NATO and U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Cheney warns of a coming spring offensive by the Taliban here.