A STOLEN car, suspected to be carrying an incendiary device, burst into flames within 75 metres of the US defence secretary last night as he was walking across the runway at the main British base in Afghanistan.
The driver, who was set alight, was arrested while Leon Panetta (pictured) was bundled away by his bodyguards.
The extraordinary and highly embarrassing lapse of security at Camp Bastion, in Helm- and, overshadowed British Prime Minister David Came-ron's press conference with Barack Obama in the Rose Garden of the White House.
The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul said: "We are aware of a stolen vehicle incident today at Camp Bastion, which injured one coalition service member.
"The alleged perpetrator was apprehended by security personnel. We are investigating to determine more facts."
It is believed that the driver was an Afghan working at the complex. Last night he was receiving treatment for burns.
The arrival of Mr Panetta was meant to be a secret. Yet the attack was launched just moments after he landed.
The vehicle sped through a security cordon, dodging gaps in concrete barriers, before crashing into a ditch, where it burst into flames. (© Independent News Service)