JALALABAD, Afghanistan — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says he believes American officials will be able to work things out with Afghan leaders who have ordered special operations forces out of Wardak province.
Hagel’s is on his first trip to Afghanistan as defense secretary. On his first morning in Kabul on Saturday, two suicide bombings, one outside the Afghan Defense Ministry and the other near a police checkpoint in eastern Khost province, killed at least 19 people, including a U.S. contractor. A Taliban spokesman says the blast outside the defense ministry was a message to the visiting Pentagon chief.
Hagel, who heard the explosion during a meeting, says ‘‘you shouldn’t be surprised when a bomb goes off or there’s an explosion” in a war zone.
Hagel is expected to meet Sunday with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who ordered the U.S. forces to leave the province just outside Kabul because of allegations that Afghans working with the commandos were involved in abusive behavior and torture.
U.S. officials insist they have seen no evidence that American forces were involved in the abuse of Afghan civilians.