7 killed, 6 injured in Afghan base attack

WASHINGTON, D.C (WSFA) - The CIA says seven employees have been killed and six others wounded in a terrorist attack on an agency base in Afghanistan.

The Associated Press has learned that the suicide bomber had been invited onto the base and was not searched. A former senior intelligence official says the man was being courted as an informant and that it was the first time he had been brought inside the camp.

The official says a senior and experienced CIA debriefer came from Kabul for the meeting, suggesting that the purpose of the meeting was to gain intelligence.

The former senior intelligence official and another former official with knowledge of the attack spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

The CIA has declined to comment.

CIA director Leon Panetta said those killed in Wednesday's attack "were far from home and close to the enemy, doing the hard work that must be done to protect our country from terrorism." His comments came in a message to agency employees sent on Thursday.

The attack by a suicide bomber at a Forward Operating Base in Afghanistan's southeastern Khost Province is believed to be one of the worst against the CIA in the agency's history.

President Barack Obama said the CIA employees come from a "long line of patriots" whose courageous service has helped to thwart terrorist plots and save lives.

In a letter to CIA employees released by the agency, Obama said the U.S. would not be able to maintain its freedom and security without their service. He also noted that the spy agency has been tested "as never before" since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The president, who is in Hawaii for the holidays, wrote to tell them they "have helped us understand the world as it is, and taken great risks to protect our country." He wrote that they serve in the shadows and their sacrifices have sometimes been unknown to fellow citizens, friends, and even their families.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)