Photo by Kevin Lamarque-Pool/Getty Images.
UPDATE: The Taliban greeted President Obama's surprise visit to Afghanistan to sign a strategic agreement with President Hamid Karzi by announcing their "spring offensive" in the country Wednesday.
Seven were killed and 17 injured in an early Wednesday morning attack on a heavily-fortified compound in the eastern part of the country. The private compound, mostly inhabited by internationals, was hit by a car bomb, followed by gunfire, USA Today reports.
A spokesperson for the Taliban said the attack was to "send a message to Obama that the Afghans will welcome you with attacks," adding that "you don't need to sign agreements; you need to focus on how to get out of this country."
President Obama had left the country about two hours before the explosion, CNN reports.
Tuesday evening, the president addressed Americans from Afghanistan, the first time a sitting president has done so from a war zone. The address came shortly after Obama and Karzi signed a strategic agreement that guarantees an ongoing relationship between the two countries beyond a 2014 deadline withdrawal of U.S.-led international forces from Afghanistan.
Obama told Americans that "the light of a new day" is "on the horizon" for Afghanistan. He continued (via ABC News):
The Iraq War is over. The number of our troops in harm's way has been cut in half, and more will be coming home soon. We have a clear path to fulfill our mission in Afghanistan, while delivering justice to al-Qaida.
Tuesday, May 1: President Obama on Tuesday made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan, where he was set to sign a strategic agreement with President Hamid Karzi meant to lay the groundwork for U.S.-Afghan relations once American troops leave at the end of 2014.
The Washington Post reports that the president landed at Bagram air base north of Kabul at 10:20 p.m. local time before flying by helicopter to the capital, where he and Karazi were expected to meet before signing the partnership agreement.
Administration sources tell Politico that the president will address the nation this evening from the Bagram base, giving Americans an update on the U.S. military's withdrawal plans. The president is set to make his remarks at around 7:30 p.m. EST, a time when it will be the middle of the night in Afghanistan.
The timing of the trip and the speech—on the one-year anniversary of the U.S. raid that killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan—is likely no coincidence. It gives Obama his latest opportunity to remind voters of both the successful Navy SEAL raid and that he managed to wind down two expensive wars during his first term, the New York Times explains.
The trip also gives Obama the chance to attempt to ease concerns from Afghan leaders who fear the United States will largely abandon them once American troops are no longer on the ground. The overall U.S.-Afghan relationship has been particularly tense of late, in part because of the accidental burning of several Qurans at the Bagram base.
While the president's trip was supposed to be a surprise (as are most presidential trips to a war zone) the White House reportedly spent much of the day Tuesday trying to keep Obama's whereabouts a secret after a local Afghan media outlet tweeted that the president had touched down in Afghanistan. BuzzFeed has more on that here.