WASHINGTON, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- The CIA employees killed in a suicide attack in Afghanistan are part of a "long line of patriots" who safeguard freedom, U.S. President Obama said Thursday.
The seven employees "were part of a long line of patriots who have made great sacrifices for their fellow citizens, and for our way of life," Obama said in a message to the CIA workforce. "The United States would not be able to maintain the freedom and security that we cherish without decades of service from the dedicated men and women of the CIA."
The seven Americans died Wednesday when a suicide bomber detonated himself inside Forward Operating Base Chapman, used as a CIA operations and surveillance center, in Khost province in eastern Afghanistan. At least one other person is believed to have died in the bombing.
"The men and women who gave their lives in Afghanistan did their duty with courage, honor and excellence, and we must draw strength from the example of their sacrifice," Obama said in the message released by the White House press office in Washington. Obama is vacationing in Hawaii with his family.
Their names will be included on the Memorial Wall at CIA headquarters in McLean, Va., and "they will live on in the hearts of those who loved them, and in the freedom that they gave their lives to defend," Obama said.
The CIA has been tested as never before since the United States was attacked Sept. 11, 2001, Obama said.
"Because of your service, plots have been disrupted, American lives have been saved, and our allies and partners have been more secure," Obama said. "Your triumphs and even your names may be unknown to your fellow Americans, but your service is deeply appreciated."