Washington: Serial explosions rocked the Afghan capital Kabul hours after US President Barack Obama arrived in Afghanistan on an unannounced visit late on Tuesday night coinciding with the first anniversary of the killing of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden,

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During the visit, Obama and his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai signed strategic partnership agreement pledging US support for Afghanistan for a decade after 2014, when NATO forces are planning to conclude their combat role.
   
Senior US officials said the unconventional timing of events on the trip, such as the scheduled midnight local time signing ceremony, was aimed at allowing Obama to address Americans on a schedule convenient for US television audiences.
   
That speech, expected to run about 10 minutes, was scheduled to take place just after 730 PM on Tuesday, which was 5 AM IST Wednesday, officials said.
   
A small group of White House correspondents travelling with the US President were prevented from filing any news report till his arrival at the Bagram air base in Afghanistan.
   
He arrived at Bagram Air Field, the main US base in Kabul, at 10.20 PM local time. Obama was greeted at the airport by US Ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Croker.

8 killed in Kabul attacks

Eight people were killed and 17 injured in suicide bombings and a gunbattle in the Afghan capital on Wednesday. . "There were at least two suicide car bombings near a logistic camp named Green Village run by foreigners in Pul-i-Charkhi area this (Wednesday) morning," a police source said. A suicide car bomb struck the Jalalabad road area, which is home to several foreign military bases, Kabul's police chief Mohammad Ayoub Salangi said.

He said the dead include a foreign security guard, five civilians and two suicide bombers.

Afghan Taliban claimed responsibility for the blasts. The US said its embassy was "under lockdown" and warned staff to "take cover, move away from the windows".

Goal to defeat al-Qaeda within reach, says Obama
   
However, prior to the blasts, US President Barack Obama on Tuesday said America had "turned the tide of war" in Afghanistan in the last three years, asserting that his goal to defeat al-Qaeda and deny it a chance to rebuild was now "within reach".
   
In a nationally televised address to the nation from Bagram air force base in Afghanistan, where he made an unannounced visit last night, Obama said, "America spent nearly eight years fighting a different war in Iraq. Andal-Qaeda's extremist allies within the Taliban have waged a brutal insurgency. But over the last three years the tide has turned."
   
Obama said US broke the Taliban's momentum, built strong Afghan security forces and "devastated" al-Qaeda's leadership, taking out over 20 of their top 30 leaders. "And one year ago from a base here in Afghanistan, our troops launched the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. The goal that I set to defeat al-Qaeda and deny it a chance to rebuild is now within our reach. Still, there will be difficult days ahead. The enormous sacrifices of our men and women are not over," he said.
   
It was here from within these borders that al-Qaeda launched the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 innocent men, women and children, he said.
   
"And so 10 years ago the United States and our allies went to war to make sure that al-Qaida could never again use this country to launch attacks against us. Despite initial success, for a number of reasons, this war has taken longer than most anticipated. In 2002, bin Laden and his lieutenants escaped across the border and established safe haven in Pakistan," Obama said.

(JPN/Agencies)