Suicide Bombers Strike As U.S. Defense Secretary Visits Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (March 9, 2013)--Two suicide bombings Saturday in Afghanistan killed at least 19 people on a day that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was visiting the capital, Kabul.

A suicide bomber on a bicycle struck outside the Afghan Defense Ministry and about a half hour later another suicide bomber attacked a police checkpoint in Khost city, the capital of Khost province in eastern Afghanistan.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the Kabul bombing, which killed nine, saying it was a message to Hagel.

President Hamid Karzai's office says the bombing in Khost killed two officers and eight children.

Pentagon spokesman George Little says the secretary was in a briefing at a U.S.-led military coalition facility in another part of the city when the Kabul explosion occurred.

Reporters traveling with Hagel were moved to a lower floor of the building where they were attending the briefing.

U.S. facilities in downtown Kabul were locked down as a security precaution.

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