March 10 Photo Brief: World’s largest functional tuba, World Baseball Classic brawl, Burning of the bulls, Chuck Hagel in Kabul

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World’s largest functional tuba, World Baseball Classic brawl, Burning of the bulls in Mexico, Chuck Hagel in Kabul and more in today’s daily brief.

Afghan suicide attacks mar U.S. Defense secretary’s visit
By Shashank Bengali and David S. Cloud, Los Angeles Times
7:02 p.m. EST, March 9, 2013

KABUL, Afghanistan — Two deadly suicide bombings minutes apart Saturday morning marred Chuck Hagel’s maiden visit to Afghanistan as Defense secretary and served as a jarring reminder of the problems still facing the U.S. as it seeks to disengage from the 11-year-old war.

A bicyclist detonated explosives strapped to his body about 30 yards from a main entrance of the Defense Ministry in Kabul about 8:45 a.m., mowing down Afghans who were waiting in line to enter the compound, U.S. officials said.

The bomb killed at least nine civilians and wounded 14 people, including two Afghan army soldiers, the Defense Ministry said in a statement, making it one of the deadliest attacks in the capital in months.

Hagel was getting a briefing at a U.S. facility half a mile away when the blast occurred. The Taliban swiftly claimed responsibility for the attack.

“I wasn’t sure what it was,” Hagel later told reporters. “But we’re in a war zone. I’ve been in war. It shouldn’t be a surprise when bombs go off.”

Less than an hour later, a suicide bomber on foot tried to pass through a police checkpoint in the eastern province of Khowst, killing eight children and a police officer in the provincial capital of the same name, the deputy police chief said.

The provincial police official, Mohammad Yaqub Mandozai, said the bombing took place while police officers at the checkpoint were searching cars. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

U.S. officials had hoped Hagel’s visit would highlight what they say has been progress in turning over security responsibility to the Afghan army and police before the planned pullout of most American troops next year. But the two attacks, at a time when security measures in the Afghan capital were heightened for Hagel’s visit, only deepened questions about the government’s ability to stem the insurgency as the U.S. and its allies leave.

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