December 31, 2009 / 6:20 PM / 10 years ago

CIA probes how bomber penetrated Afghan base

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The CIA has launched an internal review of how a suicide bomber penetrated its base in eastern Afghanistan, killing seven of its officers, the second-highest death toll in the agency’s history, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

The CIA officers died in an attack on Wednesday at the base near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, the agency said in a statement earlier on Thursday. It added that six other employees were injured in the bombing, the deadliest since a 1983 bombing in Beirut, which killed eight.

The security breach was a setback to the CIA, which has been expanding its presence in Afghanistan to counter the resurgent Taliban militants.

CIA Director Leon Panetta said the deaths would not deter the agency.

“There are plenty of people here who are capable and willing to make sure that these people will be avenged,” a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity.

“This incident is being looked at very, very carefully, and what there is to be learned will be learned,” the official added.

The CIA said it would not release the names of those killed or provide details about the work they were doing for the agency, citing “the sensitivity of their mission and other ongoing operations.”

CIA agents oversee strikes against Taliban and al Qaeda targets along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Reporting by Adam Entous; Editing by Paul Simao

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