Via Defcon Hill:

A Taliban suicide bomber struck the main gate at a key American air base in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, hours after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta visited the location during an impromptu visit to U.S. forces in the country.

The Taliban bomber detonated his deadly ordinance in an attempt to breach the outer security perimeter of Kandahar airfield, killing two Afghan civilians and wounding 14, according to the Associated Press.

Initial reports by Afghan officials claimed three NATO troops were also injured in the bombing. However, Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi could only confirm the civilian casualties to the AP.

Officials from the International Security Assistance Force could not comment on any U.S. or allied casualties as a result of the bombing. Panetta was in no immediate danger as a result of the bombing, the AP reports.

Panetta reportedly just left Kandahar airfield for a meeting with Afghan president Hamid Karzai in Kabul at the time of the attack. He had been meeting with top U.S. commanders in southern Afghanistan and elsewhere in the country to discuss details of the Pentagon’s withdrawal strategy.